The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) supports Turkey's status as a guarantor country on the island, TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said yesterday.
Tatar pointed to the Greek prime minister's statement that old-fashioned guarantor roles should be left behind in history, meaning they want Turkey to leave Cyprus and go.
"Cypriot Turks will live there forever along with Greeks in the European Union. There is no such thing; we cannot accept that. Most Cypriot Turks will also not allow that. Our world, our model is for the TRNC to live, and Turkey's guarantor status to continue," he said, underlining Turkey's rights stemming from international agreements to join processes related with the island. Responding to the Anadolu Agency's (AA) questions, Tatar also evaluated the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. Pointing to European energy companies' activities in the region, Tatar said: "There may be personal interests and some big companies' interests. But, at the end of the day, the basic law says that we should look at the facts about Cyprus. When we look at these facts, there are two equal nations on the island: Greeks and Turks. Therefore, Greeks' unilateral agreements and drilling activities violate international law."
Stressing that the necessary response has been given to the ongoing activities, Tatar added: "As we protect our rights and interests, we have given the necessary messages. ‘If you drill, we also drill.' That's what we do with Turkey right now. Turkey's determination about this pleases us. At the end of the day, we have rights and interests with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean." Since it is a fundamental right for the TRNC and Turkey to continue drilling activities in cooperation, Tatar said that this message has been given to the whole world. "In our struggle, justice and law will be with us. There are some noises right now. At the end, I think that we are doing our duty for our next generations by protecting the interests of our peoples. Turkey is the side that decides this. They support the process with drilling ships and investments. I thank President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government," Tatar added.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels, Fatih and most recently Yavuz, to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources in the region. Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017. Athens and the Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships' crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey used its guarantor rights to intervene on the island after a far-right Greek Cypriot military coup sponsored by the military junta then in power in Athens sought to unite the island with Greece. The coup followed decade long inter-ethnic violence and terrorism targeting Turkish Cypriots, who were forced to live in enclaves when Greek Cypriots unilaterally changed the constitution in 1963 and stripped the island's Turks of their political rights.
The TRNC, established in 1983 on the northern one-third of the island, is only recognized by Turkey and faces a long-standing embargo in commerce, transportation and culture.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries, Turkey, Greece and the U.K., came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.
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