Erdoğan: Turkey abiding by international laws in East Med

Erdoğan: Turkey abiding by international laws in East Med

Mehmet Soysal
Erdoğan: Turkey abiding by international laws in East Med

Turkey is abiding by international law amid tensions over gas drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean and will not hesitate to take further steps to resolve the issue, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

“We are taking the necessary steps within the law, and we will try to continue as such,” Erdoğan 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 said.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area and Ankara has the right to hydrocarbon drilling as well.

European Union leaders warned Turkey on June 20 to end its gas drilling in disputed waters or face action from the bloc, after Greece and Greek Cyprus pressed other EU states to speak out.

Erdoğan said the Greek Cyprus administration 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],” the president said.

“The EU also is 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.”

A second Turkish drilling vessel, Yavuz, was sent to the east Mediterranean Sea on June 20 to join Fatih, which launched offshore drilling operations on May 3 in an area located 75 kilometers off the western coast of Cyprus island.

The area falls entirely within the Turkish continental shelf-registered with the U.N. and under permit licenses, which the Turkish government in previous years granted to national oil company Turkish Petroleum Corporation.

Turkey wants to see energy as an incentive for a political resolution on the island and peace in the wider Mediterranean basin rather than a catalyst for further tensions.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan called for international action against Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, who threatened to hit Turkish targets and kidnapped six Turkish sailors last week, before releasing them 40 hours later.

“The United Nations’ addressee there, according to international law, is Fayez al-Sarraj.  Haftar is acting like a pirate,” Erdoğan said.

“Until today, we have held all our meetings with al-Sarraj. I have never met or talked with Haftar. Now the U.N. should take steps accordingly. We hope that there will be an opportunity to hold elections in Libya as soon as possible and the people get the chance to elect their own representatives.”