NEWS

Turkish parties pledge backing to Cyprus drilling

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Turkey, Cyprus, Energy

In a joint response to the European Union’s decision to impose sanctions on Ankara over its illegal drilling activities within Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), four parties in the Turkish Parliament issued a joint statement on Friday pledging support to their government.

“We find it right and appropriate for our state to continue the exploration of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean,” said an English translation of a declaration signed by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), opposition Iyi (Good) Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

The only party in Parliament not to sign the declaration was the Kurdish HDP, which “strongly cursed” all attempts to ignore “the legitimate rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish Republic.”

It also expressed its support for a proposal by Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci for both communities on Cyprus to co-manage the island’s hydrocarbon reserves.

Moreover, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told lawmakers that no matter what decisions the EU takes, Turkey will continue its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and will not back down from its rights, which, he claimed, stem from international law.

The latest statements from Turkey coincide with remarks yesterday by Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez, who said that the Oruc Reis research vessel will be dispatched to Cyprus in August.

Turkey will have two research vessels and two drillships in the area, he reportedly said, adding that “we will make full use of our rights as emerging from international law.”

He denied reports that the Fatih drillship has discovered natural gas off the western coast of Cyprus and said that it will complete its activities in three to four weeks.

Meanwhile, Greece’s new Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and the chief of the country’s armed forces, Christos Christodoulou, visited Cyprus on Friday on the occasion of the anniversary marking Turkey’s invasion in 1974.

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