Turkey will never bow to the EU Foreign Affairs Council sanctions and pressures declared
"against Turkey's drilling activities in Eastern Mediterranean", the country's vice
president said on July 20.
Fuat Oktay's remarks came at an event to mark the 45th anniversary of Turkey’s military
operation launched to protect Turkish population in Cyprus.
The European Council published a final declaration Monday following a meeting of
the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council attended by foreign ministers of member states.
The council said in the statement that in light of Turkey’s "continued and new illegal
drilling activities," it would suspend civil aviation negotiations and "agree not
to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level
dialogues for the time being."
Oktay said that Turkey has always defended from the very beginning that the energy
resources in the Eastern Mediterranean should be used as an opportunity for peace
and stability in the island.
Stressing that Turkey would never hesitate to take the necessary steps to protect
rights and interests of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots within their continental
shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean, Oktay said, "Turkey is acting in unity as one
heart and one voice on this issue."
"We have implemented all the steps that we have always strongly emphasized since
the beginning and we will continue to do so," Oktay said referring to Turkey's drilling
activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling
in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
(TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since this 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.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in
2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’
crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.