Turkey will increase its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and it will send a 4th ship to the region, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
“If you [EU] take such decisions against Turkey, we will increase activities [in the Eastern Mediterranean]. We have three ships in the Eastern Mediterranean. We will send the 4th one as soon as possible,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference in North Macedonia.
Cavusoglu’s remarks came a day after the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on the Turkish drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The council decided to suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agreed not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being.
Cavusoglu said “there is no need to take seriously” the conclusion, adding the EU knows that its decisions against Turkey are not possible to implement.
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.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ 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. — ended in 2017 in Switzerland.