By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey will not abandon its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, a senior official from the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said on Wednesday.
Speaking to the lawmakers at the Turkish parliament, Mehmet Mus, the AK Party deputy chair, slammed the EU decision to suspend high-level talks with Ankara.
"No country can deprive Turkey of its sovereignty rights with that kind of threats," said Mus.
He added that Turkey will continue its drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean "without bowing to the pressures."
His remarks came after a conclusion adopted by the EU Foreign Affairs Council 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.
Mus said that Turkey will never accept the decision taken by the EU.
"We invite the EU to act objectively in accordance with the international law," he added.
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 rights of Turkey and the TRNC over the resources of the region.
The Turkish-flagged drillship, Fatih, launched offshore drilling operations this May in an area 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island of Cyprus.
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.