By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Sunday condemned a statement by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell critical of Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“The EU, acting under the pretext of union solidarity, should first of all end its unrealistic, prejudiced, and double standard policies,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a statement.
“The European Union has remained silent since 2003 to the usurpation and violation of the rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean. The EU has never mentioned or referred to the Turkish Cypriots in any of its statement on the subject and as such it ignored the existence and rights of the Turkish Cypriots,” Aksoy said, referring to the year before Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus joined the EU, falsely claiming to represent the whole island, including the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
“No one should doubt that Turkey will continue to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriots also in the south of the island, until their rights to the hydrocarbon resources of the island are guaranteed and a cooperation mechanism is established within the framework of the proposal of 13 July 2019,” Aksoy added, citing a Turkish Cypriot proposal.
On Saturday, following the announcement that Turkey’s drill ship Yavuz is to be dispatched for more drilling, Borrell issued a statement on Turkey’s so-called “illegal drilling activities in [Greek] Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.”
Aksoy stressed that the Yavuz proceeded to license area G south of the island to conduct its third drilling operation in line with the licenses granted to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation in 2011 by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
“In this license area, as the co-owners of the island, Turkish Cypriots have as many rights as the Greek Cypriots. Should oil and natural gas be found in this area, both parties will share the revenues together,” he said.
“In this regard, the proposal made by Turkish Cypriot authorities on 13 July 2019 concerning the equitable sharing of the hydrocarbon resources and revenues is still valid and is an important opportunity for a solution,” Aksoy added.
- Drilling in the Eastern Med
On Nov. 27, Ankara and the Libya’s UN-recognized 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 Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus also has rights to the resources in the area. It went into effect on Dec. 8.
It further underlined that Ankara had a say in projects that involve it as it has the longest coastline in the Mediterranean and that it is prepared to cooperate with all countries in the region except the Greek Cypriot administration.
Turkey is a guarantor nation for the TRNC and 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 aimed at the annexation of Cyprus 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, 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.