'Eastern Mediterranean has vital importance for Turkey'

The Eastern Mediterranean is a critically important area for Turkey, according to a top official from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

The Eastern Mediterranean region has "vital importance" for Turkey geopolitically, geostrategically, and in other aspects, said Kudret Ozersay, the TRNC's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, on Wednesday.

Speaking at a seminar at the University of Kyrenia's Maritime Studies Faculty in the coastal city of Girne, Turkish Cyprus, Ozersay said, "Everyone accepts that Turkish Cypriots also have a right in this region," adding that Turkish Cypriots are "actors to be addressed" in the area.

Turkey, as a guarantor nation for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is currently carrying out hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with two drilling vessels, the Fatih and Yavuz, along with the Oruc Reis and Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa seismic vessels in the same region.

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.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus's annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.

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