Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday said that the country's natural gas exploration vessel Fatih has started “drilling right in the west of Cyprus.”
“We used to do seismic exploration because we didn't have a drilling vessel. Now our Fatih 1 started drilling right in the west of Cyprus,” he said in translated comments in an interview with Turkey's state-run Anadolou news agency.
Cavusoglu added that Turkey is also sending a second ship to the area, because “despite all our warnings for years, the Greek side started unilateral exploration around Cyprus, seismic exploration and now drilling operations.”
Cavusoglu added that any Cypriot deal for oil and gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean that excludes Turkey is “invalid.”
“We will not back down and we will take all the necessary steps. The Greek Cypriots should know their limits,” he was quoted as saying by Greek media.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by Anadolou's English-language site on Friday as saying that his country has no intention of reducing the number of troops it has deployed in the occupied north of Cyprus.
“Turkey is not reducing its troops in Northern Cyprus. We will keep our soldiers in there as long as needed,” Erdogan told reporters prior to a visit to Tajikistan, where he will attend a summit on Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).