Turkey’s president said on Saturday that all mayors “misusing municipal facilities” would face the same consequences as three who were recently suspended for allegedly aiding the PKK terrorist group.

Speaking at an opening ceremony in the northern Black Sea province of Rize, Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that Turkey would not allow “a single cent” of the government to go to for terrorist organizations.

Erdogan added that Ankara would continue to monitor this issue and act if needed.

Earlier this week, the mayors of the cities of Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van were suspended. They are facing terrorism charges.

The mayors — Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, Ahmet Turk, and Bedia Ozgokce Ertan — are from the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), a party Turkey’s government has accused of having links to the PKK terror group.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

At another event in the same province, Erdogan also touched on that winning an election did not give the right to “commit crimes”, regardless of party.

Praising the rise in production of the domestic defense industry since the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party came to power, he said the sector’s annual income reached $2.5 billion.

Erdogan added that Turkey could now produce its own unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), enabling its military to access the terrorists’ caves and shelters.

“We are chasing the terrorists in operations Claw 1, 2 and 3 and they fleeing to northern Iraq,” he said.

On May 27, Turkey launched Operation Claw against the PKK in the Hakurk region of northern Iraq. The ongoing offensive has neutralized dozens of terrorists so far.

Eastern Mediterranean

Referring to the Turkish presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, he underlined that Turkish seismic and drilling vessels continued to carry out their activities in the region.

“When we find petroleum or natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean all those who now oppose us will line up at our door,” said Erdogan.

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 spring this year, 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 then have seen several attempts to resolve the 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.

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