Turkey has reacted to Greece’s condemnation Tuesday of the country’s newly declared drilling within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of the Republic of Cyprus.
“Greece, with today’s statement, once again exhibits her unrealistic perceptions and rights-refusing attitudes regarding the problems in our region,” Hami Aksoy, spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry, told journalists late Tuesday.
“The Greek/Greek Cypriot side deliberately ignores the fact that Turkey has legitimate and sovereign rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and Turkish Cypriots have equal rights, as the co-owner of the Island, on the resources around the island,” Aksoy said.
He said that the “maximalist and uncompromising attitude” of Greece and Cyprus was an “actual threat to peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
In a statement posted Sunday on the Turkish Defense Ministry website, the country said its drill ships - the Fatih and the Yavuz - and research vessels Barbaros and Orucreis were continuing their activities in the eastern Mediterranean, and that the Turkish navy is providing security from both the air and sea.
Blocks 6 and 7, where Turkey declared it would be launching drilling activities, had already been licensed by the Republic of Cyprus to energy companies Eni and Total to carry out exploratory drilling.
On Monday, the government of the Republic of Cyprus said Turkey continues to pursue "illegal expansionist plans" in the east Mediterranean by again attempting to drill for gas in waters where Cyprus has exclusive economic rights
"This new illegal 'act of piracy' constitutes a further severe violation of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Republic of Cyprus, contrary to international law," the Cypriot government said in a statement, noting that the move is taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey’s announcement was strongly condemned on several fronts on Tuesday, with the UK, Italy, and Greece backing the Republic of Cyprus’ exclusive rights to the waters south of the island nation.
“This is yet another provocation that ignores appeals by the EU and the international community to respect international law and the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Asked to comment on the matter, a representative of the British High Commission in Cyprus reiterated to CNA on Tuesday the UK’s long-standing position on Turkish provocations in the Cyprus EEZ.
“The UK has consistently stated its support for the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit oil and gas in its internationally agreed exclusive economic zone,” the BHC representative said, but stressed that the UK sees the best way out is a lasting solution to the Cyprus Problem, something all sides should boost efforts toward.
Italy also took a stand on Tuesday, stating that it is closely following developments in the Cyprus EEZ, and is holding an open line of communication with the Italian energy company Eni for an evaluation of the unfolding situation.