By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey will leave no action unanswered that would harm its legitimate rights, nor those of the Turkish Cypriots, the country's vice president said on Tuesday.
"We will not leave unanswered any step that would harm the legitimate rights or interests of our country or the TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) in the Eastern Mediterranean," Fuat Oktay told lawmakers in Turkey's parliament.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
Oktay also noted that Turkey would continue to protect its legitimate rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
"Turkey, within the framework of its sovereign rights and authority in the Eastern Mediterranean, can work on the continental shelf whenever it wants," he said.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region, including maritime disputes, through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.