Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned Cyprus on Thursday that his country will not hesitate to use force over drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking on Turkey’s state television, he pointed out that “[The Cypriots] cannot take unilateral steps in the eastern Mediterranean. “If they dare, they will get the same answer as in the past,” he was quoted as saying in a chilling reference to the Turkish invasion of 1974.
Cavusoglu was referring to Tuesday’s announcement in Nicosia that the country has initiated legal proceedings against three companies involved in gas drilling by Turkey to the west of the island for encroaching on the island’s continental shelf.
Cypriot officials declined to name the companies but said they were not Turkish.
A Turkish drillship, the Fatih, has been anchored west of Cyprus since last month, and another drill vessel, the Yavuz, is scheduled to be deployed east of the island soon.
“We have already initiated legal proceedings against companies cooperating with the TPAO,” the foreign ministry official said, referring to the state-owned Turkish petroleum company.
“We are determined to do the same with the Yavuz,” the official added.
Erdogan: We know how to speak their language
Earlier, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Cyprus that he will not hesitate to take “necessary steps” to prevent the country from drilling for gas in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“We are taking the necessary steps within the law, and we will try to continue as such,” Erdogan told a group of journalists on the plane returning from China late on July 2.
“But if we come up against unlawful actions, we know how to speak the language, whichever they speak. It is unacceptable that those who have no legal rights there, try to acquire gains,” he was quoted as saying by Turkish daily Hurriyet.
He added that Cyprus has never acted within the law. “The Greek-Cyprus administration, whose entrance to the European Union is shady, is trying to intimidate the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] with the power it gets [from the EU],” Erdogan said.
“The EU is also not acting honestly. The TRNC was the victim of a grave injustice when Southern Cyprus was included in the EU although it said ‘no’ in [a 2004] referendum [to a peace plan], while Northern Cyprus was excluded although it said ‘yes.’ And the EU has not paid the funds it should have to Northern Cyprus. How can we trust the EU? They are not honest.”