Cyprus Mail

Ankara ‘expects US to conform to alliance’

The Turkish seismic vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has called on the US to act in accordance with the spirit of its alliance and partnership with Turkey.

Oktay was quoted in Turkish Cypriot media on Tuesday as saying that Turkey would “by no means” tolerate any measures by Greece or “southern Cyprus against Turkey and the ‘TRNC’”.

He was referring to ongoing drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone by US energy giant ExxonMobil.

“As Turkey, our expectation from the US is for it to act according to the spirit of the alliance in every single area,” Oktay said during a budget speech.

He added that Ankara would not make “the slightest” compromise regarding its hydrocarbon interests around Cyprus, the Aegean Sea or the Eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, after reports on Monday that Ankara would acquire a second drillship early next year, Turkish daily Yeni Safak reported that Turkish forces deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of ‘Operation Mediterranean Shield’ were monitoring developments at sea.

The fleet’s duty is to protect Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, the Turkish seismic vessel working in the Eastern Mediterranean which Turkey claimed had previously been the target of a Greek frigate trying to interfere with the research vessel.

Despite Greek interference during the early days of Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa’s exploration in October, Greek vessels have not crossed its path since Turkish forces responded to that frigate, the report said.
Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, which was bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration operations in the Mediterranean since April 2017.

Turkey has consistently contested “Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activity” in the Eastern Mediterranean, while asserting that the Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.

“Our aim is to protect our seas from all threats and ensure we can move safely in these areas. Recently, the Eastern Mediterranean has hosted a large number of ships, including offshore aircraft ships, as well as aircraft carrier missions from different countries. The navy has been protecting Turkey’s rights and interests in the region through Operation Mediterranean Shield since 2006,” said Western Mission Group Commander Yalcın Ozkutuk.

“Normally, research vessels carry out their activities with support vessels. However, due to the occasional interference of Greek warships, Turkish warships are also necessary. We, as the Turkish Naval Forces, provide support and protection and do not allow Greece to violate international law.”

Navy ships, including the Gaziantep and Gokceada frigates and Bozcaada and Bandırma corvettes, take turns in guarding the Barbaros.

Turkey plans to start shallow water drilling off the coast of Mersin and has begun preparatory work, the report said.

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