Turkey will not let a fait accompli in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, and Cyprus, the nation's defense minister said on Sunday.
Aboard the TCG Gemlik frigate accompanying the Yavuz drilling vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean, Hulusi Akar, accompanied Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, Army Commander Gen. Ümit Dündar, Navy Commander Adm. Adnan Özbal and Air Force Commander Gen. Hasan Küçükakyüz, was briefed about Turkey's activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean seas.
"We have defended the rights of our own, and the people of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to the end and will continue [to defend]. Nobody should test our strength," Akar said.
"We won't turn a blind eye to a fait accompli in Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Aegean… We won't let any decision against our rights over this issue to be taken in any way," Turkey's defense chief reiterated.
"One should expect this: they [Greek Cypriot administration] will do exploration, drilling, extract gas and oil and benefit from these while the people of Cyprus, the state of the Republic of Turkey and 82 million will stand idly by. This is ridiculous."
Akar on Saturday arrived the TRNC to inspect Turkish troops stationed on the island and to hold a series of talks with the Turkish Cypriot officials accompanied.
Earlier on Sunday, Akar and top commanders performed their prayers for Muslim festival of Qurban Bayram (Feast of the Sacrifice), also known as Eid al-Adha, at the Hala Sultan Mosque near Nicosia (Lefkoşa) and exchanged bayram greetings with Cypriot Turks.
They later met with TRNC President Mustafa Akıncı, Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and Parliament Speaker Teberrüken Uluçay at the bayram reception held at the TRNC Presidency.
VP Oktay reiterates Ankara's commitment to East Med drilling
Turkey will "resolutely" continue its drilling activities in Eastern Mediterranean, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday.
"Now, Fatih, Yavuz, and Barbaros drilling vessels are in the region. Oruç Reis [exploration vessel] is sailing to the region. Our determination at this point is extremely certain," Oktay told reporters following the Eid al-Adha prayer in Istanbul.
"Without any hesitation, Turkey will continue to defend rights of its own and Turkish Cypriots," he said.
Turkey will maintain its commitment to continue drilling activities and equal and fair sharing of resources by Turkish Cypriots, he added.
Oktay also reiterated that the drilling activities are being held in Turkey's own continental shelf and within the framework of an agreement with the TRNC.
UN chief Guterres hails TRNC President Akıncı's hydrocarbon offer
The U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed a proposal by Turkish Cypriot leader on administration of hydrocarbon resources, according to the TRNC presidency on Saturday.
Guterres said in a letter to Akıncı that all moves to ease tensions are welcomed, the presidency said in a written statement.
On July 13, Akıncı offered Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots would cooperate on hydrocarbon resources around the island as equal partners of the island and share the income from these resources.
Guterres stressed that he believed the need for a solution of the hydrocarbon problem in the open seas is a strong incentive for a lasting solution on Cyprus.
He also appreciated Akıncı's commitment to a lasting solution on the island and his efforts to take more confidence building measures.
Akıncı's proposal was rejected by the Greek Cypriot parties.
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 decadelong 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 longstanding embargo in commerce, transportation and culture. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot Administration enjoys recognition by the international community as the Republic of Cyprus, established in 1960, which is a member of the EU.
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.
Turkey 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 area. The unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone 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 -- Fatih and most recently Yavuz -- to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships' crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.