Turkey has a plan to conduct exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean region in the near future, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu said late Sunday.
In an interview with the Greek daily Kathimerini, Cavuşoğlu said one of the key elements of the Turkish energy policy is to increase the use of domestic energy resources.
"It is our sovereign right to seek and explore these resources so we plan to start drilling in the eastern Mediterranean region in the near future," he said.
The foreign minister said the Turkish Cypriots, as co-owners of Cyprus, have an absolute right to the natural resources on the island.
"We find it unacceptable that the Greek Cypriot side insists on acting as the sole owner of the island," he added.
The foreign minister emphasized that Turkey is determined to support the Turkish Cypriots and help them broaden their legitimate rights to the natural resources of the island, and also to protect Turkey's rights and interests on its "continental shelf."
Cavuşoğlu said that the efforts to reach a solution between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots failed in July 2017 when the Cyprus conference ended without any results.
"Greek Cypriots are wrong if they think Turkish Cypriots may be restricted to the status of a simple minority. That will never happen. Turkish Cypriots will never agree and Turkey, as a guarantor of power in Cyprus, will never allow it," he said.
Speaking about Turkey-Greece relations, Cavuşoğlu called President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Dec. 7-8, 2017 visit to Greece an "important step" in bilateral relations.
"President Erdogan's visit to Greece was indeed an important step in our relations.
During our visit, the leaders discussed the issues in an open and sincere manner and both sides were satisfied with the visit.""We must continue to focus on the positive agenda and expand our cooperation in a number of areas," he said, adding: "We must also keep our public audiences informed about the benefits of the high-level dialogue process."
"Therefore, Greek-Turkish relations should not always be portrayed in a negative way on Greek media. The positive aspects of our relations must be highlighted and we support all the initiatives and projects which serve this purpose," the foreign minister stressed.
When asked about the next High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, Cavuşoğlu said it is expected to take place in the Thessaloniki city of Greece in the first half of 2018.
"We look forward to the proposals from the Greek side about the specific date," Cavuşoğlu said.