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Turkey to continue E. Med drilling, seismic activities

Foreign minister says Ankara's 'goodwill' not reciprocated by Greece

Ali Murat Alhas and Jeyhun Aliyev  | 11.08.2020 - Update : 11.08.2020
Turkey to continue E. Med drilling, seismic activities


Turkey is set to issue a license for drilling in the western part of its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean region, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks came at a joint news conference in the aftermath of his meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in Ankara, Turkey's capital.

Cavusoglu said the Turkish administration demonstrated its goodwill in the region -- where tension has been high following the discovery of energy resources -- with "temporary" gestures in line with the demands of Germany and some other European countries. 

However, according to the Turkish top diplomat, Ankara's gestures have not been reciprocated by the Greek and Greek Cypriot administration, and Turkey has reactivated its drilling vessels in response.

"We will defend rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, and not make any concessions," he said, adding seismic and drilling activities will be conducted this month.

"Oruc Reis [seismic research vessel] has gone to the region, we designated the western frontier of our continental shelf in new regions as of late August. By giving licenses to those areas as well, we will continue all kinds of seismic research and drilling activities. We are fully determined," he said.

Cavusoglu went on saying that Turkey has consistently adopted a positive approach on the matter and accused Greece of ill-will against Turkey.

He also said Turkey and Azerbaijan carried out strategically important projects stretching from the Caucasian to the Far East in Asia and London, naming the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP) and Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) particularly for their significant role in this regard.

On the Armenian-Azerbaijani tension, he said that Ankara fully supported "brotherly" Baku against the former, saying Armenia occupied 20% of Azerbaijan as well as Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh.

Stressing that Turkey sought a diplomatic solution to this tension, the top Turkish diplomat called on the international community to take the matter more seriously and put more effort to resolve it.

According to Cavusoglu, one of the greatest example of Turkish and Azerbaijani solidarity is the "TurAz Eagle" military drills ongoing since 2014.

Azerbaijan-Turkey ties

Azerbaijan's newly-appointed foreign minister said he was glad to pay his first official visit abroad to Turkey. 

Bayramov underlined that the relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan has been developing in all areas, adding that their trade volume keeps expanding.

Bayramov also thanked Ankara for its support during recent border tension with Armenia in Azerbaijan's northwestern Tovuz area, leaving at least 12 Azerbaijani soldiers -- including two senior officers -- martyred and another four soldiers wounded. 

"Brotherly Turkey always categorically supports Azerbaijan's position based on the international law," he said, adding that Baku always supports Ankara’s "just stance."

"Azerbaijan and its nation always stands by Turkey. Our unity is eternal and we build our future based on this solid ground."

Baku accused Yerevan of "provocative" behavior and Turkey warned that it would not hesitate to oppose any attack on Azerbaijan.

Bayramov said Armenia's aggressive politics were the main obstacle towards sustained peace in the region.

"Azerbaijan-Turkey relations, which are based on historical roots and brotherhood, are developing in all areas, including in political, economic, humanitarian, and military fields."

The development of relations with strategic partner Turkey is Azerbaijan's priority in its foreign policy, he underscored.

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