The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Wednesday slammed a joint declaration issued following a trilateral summit between Egypt, Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration on the Cyprus issue, saying it contains "baseless claims" against Turkey. The joint declaration, issued Tuesday following the Egypt-Greece-Greek Cypriot Administration (GCA) Summit in Cairo, "has no meaning or value," the ministry said in a statement. "This declaration is the latest example of how the Greek/Greek Cypriot duo involves regional countries and instrumentalizes them into their maximalist and intransigent national policies at the expense of international law," it said.
"Since the outset of the Cyprus issue, Turkey has exerted every effort in good faith and has put forward a strong political will for a comprehensive settlement," it said, noting that "the party who rejected the Annan Plan in 2004 and who left the table at the Cyprus Conference in Crans-Montana in 2017 is known to everyone."
It emphasized that the Cyprus issue will remain unsettled as long as the Greek/Greek Cypriot duo's mindset prevails which "ignores the very existence of the Turkish Cypriots, denies their political equality and perceives them as a minority," the ministry said.
It stressed that this mindset is the "core reason behind the failure of every negotiation process" carried out over the last five decades.
"On the other hand, Turkey exerts every effort towards the establishment of a mutually acceptable, durable and equitable regime within the framework of international law that upholds the legitimate rights and interests of all parties in all seas, including the Mediterranean," it said.
The ministry accused Greek Cypriot "maximalist policies" of disregarding the principle of "equity" which is one of the most basic principles of international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"Yet Egypt seems to have turned a blind eye to this abusive treatment by the Greek/Greek Cypriot duo," it added, noting that it led to losses in the past against Egypt's interests regarding its maritime jurisdiction areas.
Turkey will continue to "resolutely" protect its own rights and the rights of the Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, it said.
"Turkey is ready to talk to all countries in the region except the GCA for the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in the Eastern Mediterranean in accordance with the principle of equity," the ministry underlined.
Noting that the interlocutors of the Greek Cypriots are the Turkish Cypriots, it explained that the July 13 cooperation proposal of the Turkish Cypriots is an opportunity that should be seized in order to settle the Cypriot dimension of the hydrocarbons issue.
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.
However, the majority of these parcels clash with the EEZ declared by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), with the Greek Cypriot administration ignoring the fundamental rights of the TRNC to a share of the island's resources.
Ankara, authorized by the TRNC, has been taking steps to demonstrate its resoluteness to protect its sovereign rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean by accelerating efforts for hydrocarbon exploration activities with twin drilling vessels.
Since spring this year, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels – the Fatih and 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.
The Yavuz arrived in the Güzelyurt-1 location on Saturday to resume its exploration operations off the coast of the Cyprus island while Fatih also continues its activities. 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, the MTA Oruç Reis, joined Turkey's exploration activities in the region at the end of August.
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