The European Union’s steps against Turkey would not yield any result on the Cyprus issue, Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.
“The steps that it [EU] would take towards us would be useless, it would backlash,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint news conference alongside his Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis in Ankara, Turkey’s capital.
On Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “Despite our best intentions to keep good neighborly relations with Turkey, its continued escalation and challenge to the sovereignty of our Member State Cyprus will inevitably lead the EU to respond in full solidarity as agreed by #EUCO.”
Cavusoglu said the EU should not “stand behind the wrong” for the so-called solidarity, and added that Turkey would take additional steps in case of any move against itself.
“No one can prevent it,” he warned, stressing that Greek Cypriots have been violating Turkish Cypriots’ rights by continuing drilling activities without ensuring the latter’s share.
He reiterated that Turkey only then started its drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean as the guarantor country when the warnings did not bear any result.
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.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
Since this spring Ankara has sent two drillships — Fatih and Yavuz — to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.
The Turkish-flagged drill ship Fatih launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.
Athens and southern Cyprus have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
Cavusoglu also thanked his Swiss counterpart for always hosting the negotiations on Cyprus issue and iterated that Ankara is always in favor of a lasting solution on the island.
Deployment of Russian S-400s
On delivery of the first batch of Russian S-400 hardware to Turkey, Cavusoglu said: “It is [S-400] a done deal and the process is ongoing in due course.”
Cavusoglu said Turkey is coordinating the transaction and added that the process of the permits required for the plane and personnel is ongoing.
“Our National Defense Ministry has also made the necessary statement. There is no problem. The process will continue without any flaw,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, Turkey’s National Defense Ministry said on Twitter: “The first batch of equipment of S-400 missile defense system, which is procured to meet Turkey’s air and missile defense need, has started to arrive at Murted Air Base in Ankara as of July 12, 2019.”
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed the supply contract in April 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400s.
U.S. officials urged Turkey to buy U.S. Patriot missiles, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Turkey has urged the formation of a commission to clarify any technical issues, but the U.S. has failed to respond to this proposal.
On bilateral ties, Cavusoglu said Cassis was the first Swiss foreign minister visiting Turkey since 2011, and expressed will for regular official visits from both sides.
“Our desire is to increase investments in both sides,” Cavusoglu said.
They would like to increase the current $5 billion bilateral trade volume, he added.
Expressing Ankara’s support for Swiss investors in Turkey, Cavusoglu said that there are around 890 Swiss-origin firms in Turkey, while around 130,000 Turkish people live in Switzerland.
He also said that Ankara wishes to be in close cooperation with Bern in fight against terrorism.
The bilateral relations between the two countries have strained mostly lacking a standard in the matters of human rights, freedom of demonstration and democracy, he stated.
“When we consider the things happening in Switzerland, I would like to say clearly that there is a double standard,” he said, adding that pro-PKK terror group demonstrations were being held in the country with the permission of Swiss authorities.
However, the Turks, who wish to demonstrate against the PKK terrorist group leader Abdullah Ocalan, were being prevented.
“Otherwise, we don’t have any political problem with Switzerland,” Cavusoglu said.
Cassis, for his part, said that the two countries have been enjoying bilateral ties for nearly a century, and added that they wish to further improve the relations.
He said Switzerland is aware of Turkey’s hospitality for migrants coming from the Middle East and Syria and added that Turkey is a very important country to discuss regional issues.