Turkey will “resolutely” continue its drilling activities in Eastern Mediterranean, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Sunday.
“Now, Fatih, Yavuz, and Barbaros drilling vessels are in the region. Oruc Reis is sailing to the region. Our determination at this point is extremely certain,” Oktay told reporters following the Eid al-Adha prayer in Istanbul.
“Without any hesitation, Turkey will continue to defend rights of its own and Turkish Cypriots,” he said.
Turkey will maintain its commitment to continue drilling activities and equal and fair sharing of resources by Turkish Cypriots, he added.
Oktay also reiterated that the drilling activities are being held in Turkey’s own continental shelf and within the framework of an agreement with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkey 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.
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 Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (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.