Those who intend to limit Turkey's continental shelf with Antalya Gulf should know that Turkey will resolutely continue its exploration and drilling activities, country's vice president said on Sunday.
"Every inch of our land is precious for us as well as every drop of our sea is precious and indispensable," Fuat Oktay said at the welcoming ceremony of the multi-purpose rescue ship named "Gemi Kurtaran" in the coastal city of Girne.
"The Gemi Kurtaran tugboat will intervene in the possible marine accidents in the Mediterranean and contribute to the prevention of marine pollution from now on," Oktay added.
Oktay said ''the developments in the region and the rapidly changing security balance in the maritime zone have made it necessary for us to move the deterrent power of our navy to further levels.''
"Turkey has always defended the Eastern Mediterranean to be a sea of peace and thus the natural resources should be fairly removed and shared," Oktay said and continued:
"Those who intend to limit Turkey's continental shelf to the Antalya Gulf should know that, we will resolutely continue our exploration and drilling activities. Our country will continue to protect both its own rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the most powerful way as before."
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (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 of 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 Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships' crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
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. — ended in 2017 in Switzerland.