Turkey responds with a rhetoric about “protecting” its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey responds with a rhetoric about “protecting” its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean

Coordinated statements from Turkish officials

The difficulties encountered by Cyprus, analysed by Anastasiades

By Michalis Michael

A crescendo of statements follows the decisions taken by the European Council yesterday regarding the sanctions against Turkey, for what all it has does in the Cypriot EEZ. Both Hulusi Akar and Fatih Donmez are engaging in a rhetoric with aim to send a clear message that Turkey is ready to protect its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

If the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots are violated with some fait accompli then we will overturn them, the Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar stated, saying however that his country is in favour of resolving disputes in a peaceful way. Speaking at a ceremony of the special forces of the Turkish army, the Turkish Minister said that “in the Aegean, in the Eastern Mediterranean, in Cyprus and its surroundings, we continue our around-the-clock efforts to secure the rights of our country, our nation and our politicians and siblings in the “Turkish Republic of North Cyprus”, within the framework of international law. On this issue we are determined.”

“As I said before, we respect international law, we respect bilateral relations, we want peace, we want stability, we want good neighbourly relations to prevail on each side,” said Hulusi Akar, adding: “However we have said that on the other hand we will not allow the creation of fait accompli and we continue to say it with every opportunity.” The Turkish Minister stated that Turkey is in favour of peaceful settlement of disputes with its neighbours. “We want this to be perceived. If it is not perceived and some fait accompli violates the rights of our country, our nation and that of the Turkish Cypriots, we will not allow it and we will eventually put an end to these fait accompli,” he said.

We are determined to protect our rights in the eastern Mediterranean until the end, said Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, adding that they will continue their oil and gas research. Speaking at a presidential gathering in Pendik, a district in Istanbul, the Turkish Minister said the eastern Mediterranean was an area that the Ottoman Empire turned into a “lake of peace”. “But after the Ottoman Empire withdrew from the region, everyone put their hands into it. And they want to block us from there, but they never will. We are determined to protect our rights to the end. We will continue our oil and gas research in our continental shelf, in the areas we have been ‘licensed’. Not only in our own area but also in that island that our expatriates live. We are going to do our research in the areas that the “TRNC” has licensed to us,” said the Turkish Minister.

Referring to Turkey’s second drilling rig “Yavuz”, that has started heading for the eastern Mediterranean, Fatih Donmez said that there are 16 in the world and 2 are active in Turkey. He added that a large percentage of the staff are Turks and that even if there are some foreigners, the Turks are at the wheel. The Turkish Minister reported that these drill rigs can carry 2-3 drillings a year. “When our program in the Mediterranean is over, we will pull out one of our drilling rigs and head to the Black Sea. We will also do our research there, in accordance to our program. We are not looking for gas just in the sea but also on land. In Thrace we found a natural gas deposit of 3 billion square meters, which will cover the needs of 300 thousand homes for 10 years,” he said. The Turkish Minister said that their aim is until 2023 to turn Turkey into one of the 10 largest economies in the world.

Anastasiades: It was difficult to achieve the setting of political guidelines in order for the sanction process to start.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, on Friday, spoke of the political background and what preceded the European Council. “As you can see and considering the concerns of our partners, but also issues that could realistically arise from their relations with Turkey, such as immigration or the trade/economic relations between them, it was very difficult to achieve political guidelines in order to start a sanctioning process,” he said.

I must once again express my satisfaction that the coordinated efforts of both the Presidency and the Foreign Ministry, the close cooperation with Greece, with important partners and with the seven countries of the European South, have resulted in the achievement of the required legal framework that can lead to sanctions but also the opportunity for the EU to utilize all diplomatic, economic and other means.

The aim remains: restoration of order and termination of Turkey’s unlawful actions.

The European Council’s message, in short, is clear. If Turkey wants to continue smoothly with its relations either in the context of its accession process or in other relations and actions, it must normalize its relations with Cyprus and it certainly must end its illegal actions.

I want to emphasize that the measures are not an end in itself. Our wish is to end any unlawful actions of Turkey, in order to create the conditions for the resumption of a creative dialogue, and thus find a functioning, lasting and viable solution to the Cyprus problem with mutual respect to the legitimate concerns of the two communities and with aim the prevalence of peace, stability and prosperity for the entire Cypriot people on the basis of the UN Resolutions, as well as the principles and values of the EU, said the Cypriot President of the Republic./ibna