Greece, arming 16 out of 23 islands with non-military status, in violation of agreements in the Aegean sea, should act in accordance with international law, Turkey’s defense minister said.
Speaking in his visit to Turkey’s missile producer Roketsan on Wednesday, Hulusi Akar said: “We expect Greece to act according to international law, agreements and good neighborly relations.”
In addition to the fight against terrorism, Turkey’s activities are ongoing in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean, off Cyprus, and Libya, Akar said, adding that they are carried out in accordance with international law and the territorial integrity of the countries.
Turkey is a guarantor country for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities, he said.
“The Cyprus issue is our national issue. Whatever we need to do there, we’ve done so far and will continue to do so. We will continue to protect the rights of both our own and Cypriot brothers,” he noted.
Turkey, as a guarantor nation for the TRNC, is currently carrying out hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with two drilling vessels.
“It is our most sincere wish to resolve the issue within peaceful methods, based on rights and international law,” he said.
Ankara 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.
Referring to Turkey-Libya deals on military cooperation and maritime boundaries of countries, he said: “Our NATO ally and neighbor Greece wants everything to be as they want.”
Also, reminding a motion passed in the Turkish parliament authorizing sending of troops to Libya, Akar said Turkey has a training and consultancy team in Libya, and it provides training support to its Libyan brothers and continues its consultancy services.
On Nov. 27, Ankara and the Government of National Accord (GNA) signed two separate pacts, one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The maritime pact asserted Turkey’s rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area. It went into effect on Dec. 8.
Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: warlord Khalifa Haftar in eastern Libya, supported mainly by Egypt and the UAE, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.
Libya’s legitimate government had been under attack by Haftar since last April, claiming the lives of more than 1,000 people.
On Jan. 12, the conflict parties announced a cease-fire in response to a joint call by the Turkish and Russian leaders. But talks for a permanent cease-fire deal ended without an agreement after Haftar left Moscow without signing the deal.
Haftar on Jan. 19 accepted in Berlin to designate members to a UN-proposed military commission with five members from each side to monitor implementation of the cease-fire.