All steps taken by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean are in compliance with international law, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, stressing that Turkey notified the U.N. and the EU about its activities in the region.
Referring to statements by Greek Cypriots and threats of so-called arrest warrants for Turkish drilling ship Fatih's crew in a live interview on TRT Haber news channel yesterday, Çavuşoğlu said these threats are "meaningless" for Turkey.
He also highlighted that Turkey, as country with a long continental coastline, has legitimate rights and vital interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and that it has been fully exercising its sovereign rights over its continental shelf in accordance with international law.
Ankara has repeatedly voiced that it wants to see energy as an incentive for political resolution on the island and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin rather than a catalyst for further tension. It has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the region and that Ankara has the right to conduct hydrocarbon drilling there.
Turkey's first drillship, the Fatih, launched offshore operations on May 3 this year in an area located 75 kilometers off the western coast of Cyprus. The area falls entirely within the Turkish continental shelf, registered with the U.N. in 2004 and under licenses issued by the Turkish and the Turkish Cypriot governments to Turkish Petroleum.
The Fatih is set to be joined by its twin vessel, the Yavuz, which was sent to the Eastern Mediterranean on June 20 to begin drilling in the region soon.
Turkey, therefore, will continue hydrocarbon exploration activities with two drilling vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, one in the west and one in the east of Cyprus.
Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Kudret Özersay on Wednesday said hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean belong to both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.
"These resources belong to the two societies. In other words, for the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot joint owners of these resources, this important element cannot be ignored," Özersay said at a meeting organized by the Association of Accredited Correspondents at the United Nations (ACANU).
In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries, Turkey, Greece and the U.K., ended in failure in 2017 in Switzerland.