By Gozde Bayar
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey demonstrated a "historic stance" in the eastern Mediterranean, the country's president said on Sunday.
"Turkey is showing a resolute stance in the eastern Mediterranean," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a mass opening ceremony in the northeastern Black Sea province of Trabzon.
Erdogan added that Turkey maintained its activities in the eastern Mediterranean to protect its political and economic interests.
He also said Turkey carried out its activities with two seismic and drilling vessels, frigates and drones in the region.
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 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 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 then have seen several attempts to resolve the 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.