Turkey on Saturday said the presence in the region of a ship that will launch research activity on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus was another move breaching both the Turkish Cypriots’ rights and violating Turkey’s continental shelf.

The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that the main cause of tension in the eastern Mediterranean in recent years has been Greece’s and the Greek Cypriots’ “maximalist maritime jurisdiction area claims and unilateral acts that ignore Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC) rights and interests.”

Referring to the presence of the Nautical Geo vessel in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, Ankara said this was another unilateral act that, together with similar moves by Greece and Cyprus, “increase tension in the East-Med and threaten peace and stability.”

According to a Navtex issued by the Republic, the Nautical Geo would be executing survey operations within Cyprus’ EEZ in the south coast between September 27 and October 4.

“In addition to Greece’s recent attempts to violate our continental shelf in the East-Med recently, the GCA (Greek Cypriot Administration) has also announced that it will launch a research activity on 3 October with an Italian-owned, Maltese-flagged ship in the region, breaching both TRNC’s rights and violating Turkey’s continental shelf,” Ankara said.

The ministry referred to the proposal by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the EU “to convene an inclusive conference in the eastern Mediterranean last year” and the north’s proposal to the Greek Cypriot side in July 2019 regarding hydrocarbon resources. Though all these proposals are on the table, Greece and the Greek Cypriots have been attempting to engage in unilateral and provocative activities in recent months by increasing the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, it added.

It said all necessary steps are being taken against these unilateral acts of Greece and Cyprus both on the ground and at the table. “Also, it is being brought to the attention of third countries that they should not be part of these unilateral acts,” it added.

The ministry said Turkey will resolutely continue to protect its own and the Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the East-Med.