May 25 2019

Ankara expects respect from Greece, Cyprus in E. Med., Aegean - defence minister

Turkey does not wish to face provocative acts and irresponsible statements from Cyprus and Greece on Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, the country's defence minister said on Saturday.

"It is our sincere expectation that provocative acts and irresponsible statements, which do not help resolve problems in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean- are not allowed,” state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Hulusi Akar said during an event that is part of Turkey's ongoing largest military exercise Sea Wolf.

It is Turkey’s most natural right that the interests of country and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to are respected, the defence minister said, noting that Ankara expects all the sides to respect these subjects.

Akar’s statements arrive amid rising tensions over energy exploration rights around the divided island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, home to rich hydrocarbon reserves. Turkey rejects the Greek Cypriots’ rights to unilaterally tap hydrocarbon reserves around the island, which it says would contravene the rights of Turkish Cypriot whose breakaway administration controls the north of the island.

The arrival of the Turkish drillship Fatih earlier this month in an area claimed by the Greek Cypriot administration in its “Exclusive Economic Zone”, EEZ sparked outrage among EU leaders and elicited threats of arrest from the Cypriot authorities.

Meanwhile, disputed islets and claims of the violation of airspace by both sides continue to drive a wedge between Ankara and Athens in the Aegean Sea. 

“Turkey, on every occasion, voices that it sides with a resolution of the problems in Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus within the framework of good neighbourly relations and international law and it exerts efforts in this direction," the Turkish defence minister noted.

Defence officials from Turkey and Greece held talks over issues related to the Aegean Sea in Athens and discussed confidence-building measures between May 20-25.