Turkey is determined to continue exploring for natural gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean, the country’s president Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, warning that consequences would befall ‘those who refuse to learn their lesson’.
“No project can be realised if Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are not involved,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara.
His remarks came after a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar.
“We will continue to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots with the same dedication,” the Turkish leader said, adding that problems in the region are caused by the “irreconcilable attitudes of the Greek Cypriots”.
This year Turkey despatched two drillships to waters off Cyprus. The first, the Fatih, reportedly began drilling in early May in an area some 75 kilometres off the island’s western coast. The second vessel, the Yavuz, is currently located to the east of the island off the Karpas Peninsula.
Turkey contests Cyprus’ right to explore and develop offshore hydrocarbons, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
For his part, Tatar in remarks underlined the importance of Turkey’s involvement.
“Turkey must remain a guarantor state in the event of an agreement on the unification of the island of Cyprus,” he said, adding: “Turkish Cypriots are deeply content with Turkey’s dedicated stance on a solution.”
Meanwhile speaking in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union will not tolerate Turkey’s ‘illegal actions’ within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.
Macron was receiving Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Elysee Palace. During their meeting, the French leader expressed France’s solidarity towards Greece and Cyprus with regard to Turkey’s actions in the eastern Med.
Mitsotakis acknowledged the importance of France’s friendship and called on French businesses to invest in Greece.
“We will talk about a new architectural structure of the Eurozone”, Mitsotakis said, emphasizing the need for a “Europe that protects its citizens.”
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed French-Greek defence cooperation, as well as issues of security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean.