By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's opposition IYI (Good) Party Wednesday voiced its support for the government on the Eastern Mediterranean issue.
"As IYI Party, we announce here that we stand behind the today's stance of the government [on the Eastern Mediterranean issue]," the party leader Meral Aksener told the parliamentary group meeting of her party.
“Aegean is not a Greek sea,” she said, adding that the Mediterranean Sea does not fall in the continental shelf of Greek Cypriots in its entirety.
Her remarks came in the wake of 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.
Aksener called on the Turkish government to take an immediate step towards the attitude of Europe and Greece over the Eastern Mediterranean issue.
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 in 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.