'Turkey fully supports Turkish Cypriots' rights in Med'
Turkey fully supports the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus's (TRNC) rights over its own continental shelf and will not allow attempts to usurp them, the spokesman for the country's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said Wednesday.
"It is the Greek side and the Greek Cypriot side that engage in unlawful actions that escalate tension," Ömer Çelik told reporters at his party's headquarter in Ankara, referring to a dispute between the two countries, the TRNC, and the Greek Cypriot administration regarding hydrocarbon drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean.
"If the Greek Cypriots had included the TRNC in the mechanisms put in place to share the hydrocarbon resources and guarantee revenue sharing, we would not be having these troubles now," Çelik said.
The minister accused the Greek side of usurping the rights of the TRNC, acting with "one-sided waywardness" and claiming rights within the continental shelf of the Republic of Turkey.
"Turkey will never tolerate it," Çelik stressed.
Referring to a previous statement by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who claimed Turkey's activities in the Eastern Mediterranean did not comply with international law, Çelik said the speech was "far from a statesman manner," and would not lead to good consequences."
"Turkey's friendship is valuable and does not harm anyone but provides benefits to everyone," Çelik said.
"As a sovereign country, Turkey has the will to protect its interests at any costs within its continental shelf notified to the United Nations," Çelik said.
Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it would continue defending the rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean as long as they were not included in decision-making processes on hydrocarbon resources.
The statement underlined that Turkey's second drill ship in the region, "Yavuz", would operate on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots within the license areas granted by TRNC to the Turkish Petroleum company in 2011.
It added that Yavuz had been deployed south of the Karpas peninsula on the eastern edge of the island.
Since last spring, 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.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih began offshore drilling operations last May in an area approximately 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off Cyprus's western coast.
Athens and Greek Cypriots both opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships' crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
The statement by Turkey's Foreign Ministry underlined that the Greek Cypriot administration had become a member of the EU in a manner against international law, thus "destabilizing the Eastern Mediterranean together with Greece for years."
The ministry said being a member of the EU and "allegedly representing the entire Island" did not give the Greek Cypriot administration the right to usurp the legitimate rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots.
Rejecting the statements made by the Greek Foreign Ministry and EU officials declaring Turkey's "aforementioned activities as illegal", the ministry voiced concern that the statement did not mention the Turkish Cypriots "whose rights have been usurped since 1963" and their existence ignored on the Island.
"The European Union has become an actor of this play of unlawfulness staged by the Greek Cypriot-Greek partnership against the rights of the Turkish Cypriots who are the co-owners of the Island," the ministry said,
It stressed that the EU would not be able to assume the role of an honest broker in the negotiation processes towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue.