Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday pledged to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots to have a share of the gains from any hydrocarbon discoveries made inside Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as he announced plans to set up a drilling platform off the island’s coast.
Speaking during an event in Ankara marking the 60th anniversary of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation, Erdogan said that the Barbaros, the Turkish vessel that has been carrying out seismic explorations for oil and gas inside Cyprus’s maritime zone since mid-October, will remain there until a distribution deal is reached with the Cypriot government.
“Our research vessel continues its drilling activities. We will continue to be there as long as the Greek-Cypriot administration and Greece continue to ignore our warnings on the issue,” Erdogan said.
“Turkey will never stay out of developments in Cyprus,” he added.
Cyprus’s Parliament Speaker Yiannakis Omirou rebuffed Erdogan’s comments as “provocative, predatory and marauding” adding that the government should escalate its reaction.
Erdogan’s announcements came in contradiction to successive contacts between Athens and Ankara over the past few weeks to defuse the tension. These nevertheless resume on Friday as Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos meets with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu (photo) as the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) convenes in Thessaloniki.