By Ali Murat Alhas and Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed the Greek Cypriot administration (GCA) for signing agreements with international companies for off-shore hydrocarbon exploration in the so-called license area number 7.
"We repeat our strong warning that the unilateral acts of GCA, which aim at usurping the rights of the Turkish Cypriots, do not contribute to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean," Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the ministry, said in a statement.
Referring to the recent reports on the Greek Cypriot administration's deals with French Total and Italian ENI for off-shore hydrocarbon exploration within the so-called license area number 7 of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Aksoy said the Greek Cypriot side failed to understand Turkey's determination, despite the warnings.
"As repeatedly underlined and shared with the international community, a section of the so-called license area number 7 remains within the Turkish continental shelf, which has been registered with the United Nations," the Turkish official said.
He went on to say that Turkey in "no way allow" any foreign country, company or vessel to conduct any unauthorized hydrocarbon exploration activities within its maritime jurisdiction areas, adding that his country will continue to take the "necessary measures" to protect its rights and interests.
Aksoy also said that Turkish Cypriots’ proposal towards an equitable allocation of natural resources of the Island remains at the table.
"This recent signature of the agreement, however, unfortunately demonstrates that GCA is persistent in prolonging its irresponsible stance that disregards equal and inaliable rights of the Turkish Cypriots on the natural resources on and around the Island.
“We once more advise the interested companies against any hydrocarbon activities to be attempted within the Turkish continental shelf, trusting null and void licences issued by the GCA,” he added.
According to Turkey, the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean is based on the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral actions that ignore the rights of Island's Turkish population.
The Greek Cypriot unilaterally declared a total of 13 so-called parcels in the Eastern Mediterranean as its EEZ and allowed international oil and drilling companies to operate in these areas, which are anticipated to hold rich hydrocarbon reserves.
However, the majority of these parcels clash with the EEZ declared by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), with the Greek Cypriot administration ignoring the fundamental rights of the TRNC to a share of the island’s resources.
Turkey, which is also authorized by the TRNC, currently runs hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with its drilling vessels, Fatih and Yavuz. In addition, country's two other seismic vessels operate in the same region.
Turkey 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 aiming at Cyprus’s 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. -- came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.