Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey's support for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart.
Çavuşoğlu and TRNC Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay, who arrived in New York to attend 74th session of U.N. General Assembly, discussed bilateral ties and recent developments in the region. During the meeting on Sunday, Çavuşoğlu reiterated Ankara's support in regional issues.
Last week, Ankara slammed the Greek Cyprus administration and warned it not to commission hydrocarbon exploration on the Turkish continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean. "We repeat our strong warning that the unilateral acts of Greek Cyprus administration, which aim at usurping the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, do not contribute to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean," Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.
According to Turkey, the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean is based on the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral actions that ignore the rights of the island's Turkish population.
The Greek Cypriots unilaterally declared a total of 13 so-called parcels in the Eastern Mediterranean as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and allowed international oil and drilling companies to operate in these areas, which are anticipated to hold rich hydrocarbon reserves. Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus also has rights to the resources in the area. The unilaterally declared EEZ of the Greek Cypriot administration violates part of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Since spring this year, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels — the Fatih and most recently the Yavuz — to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region. The drilling area falls entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the U.N. and in permit licenses that the Turkish government in previous years granted to Turkish Petroleum, the country's national oil company.
Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017. A second seismic exploration vessel, MTA Oruç Reis, joined Turkey's exploration activities in the region at the end of August.
Athens and the Greek Cypriots have opposed Turkey's activities, threatening to arrest the ships' crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup took place after decades of violence against the island's Turkish community and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. that collapsed in 2017.
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