By Faruk Zorlu
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey condemned a statement Tuesday by the European Union’s General Affairs Council (GAC), saying it produced conclusions in a "partisan way".
"The Council expresses serious concerns over Turkey's current illegal drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the GAC said following a meeting of ministers in Luxembourg.
"It deplores that Turkey has not yet responded to the European Union's repeated calls to cease such activities. The Council underlines the serious immediate negative impact that such illegal actions have across the range of EU-Turkey relations."
Responding to the council, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said: "These conclusions show how far the EU is from understanding the steps taken by Turkey despite the conditions it finds itself in and the challenges it faces."
By accepting the Greek Cypriot Administration as an EU member, "the EU is now demeaning Turkey-EU relations over the Cyprus issue and becoming a hostage of it," the ministry said.
It added that the EU’s conclusions are biased and unrealistic.
"The EU’s current position is in fact based on the unequitable and maximalist claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriots regarding the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean aiming at usurping the rights of Turkey and of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) – the co-owner of the island of Cyprus. We totally reject these claims.
"Turkey continues to stand for peace and stability in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, as in all the surrounding seas," the ministry added.
"Those taking steps against the legitimate rights and interests of Turkey and the TRNC in the Eastern Mediterranean and ignoring the presence of Turkey in the region will never reach their goals.”
- Cyprus issue
In 1974, following a coup aimed at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Turkey intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure.
The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries -- Turkey, Greece and the U.K. -- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
On the reported decision by the Greek Cypriot administration to issue arrest warrants for crew members of the Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s drill ships will “resolutely” continue their exploration in the region.
The Fatih drillship launched offshore operations on May 3 in an area located 75 kilometers (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island and is set to be joined by the drillship Yavuz.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area and Ankara has the right to hydrocarbon drilling.