Turkey to license new Mediterranean areas this month
Turkey will issue seismic exploration and drilling licenses in new areas of the eastern Mediterranean by the end of August and continue its operations in the region, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Aug. 11 amid tensions with Greece.
Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey would issue new licenses for operations near the western borders of its continental shelf and continue “all sorts of seismic and drilling operations” in the area.
Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish administration demonstrated its goodwill in the region where tension has been high following the discovery of energy resources by making “temporary” gestures in line with the demands of Germany and some other European countries.
However, according to the Turkish top diplomat, Ankara’s gestures were not reciprocated by the Greek administration and Greek Cypriots and Turkey reactivated their drilling vessels in response.
“We will defend the rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean, and not make any concessions,” he said.
Erdoğan calls on eastern Mediterranean countries for a fair solution
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Aug. 10 called on Mediterranean countries to cooperate in finding “an acceptable formula that protects the rights of all.”
“Turkey will continue to implement its plans in the field and diplomacy until common sense prevails on the issue [of eastern Mediterranean],” he said following a cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
“We are always here and ready to resolve conflicts through dialogue on an equitable basis,” Erdoğan added.
“No way Turkey would consent on any initiative trying to lock the country to its shores, ignoring the vast Turkish territory,” the president said.
In May, the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has applied for licenses to drill in seven additional oil fields in the eastern Mediterranean. The decision of the General Directorate of Mining and Oil Affairs of Turkey’s Energy Ministry published the decision in the Official Gazette on May 30. The new licenses will cover these areas in Turkey’s continental shelf that the TPAO had applied, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity.
On the other hand, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Aug. 11 emphasized that all necessary measures were taken to protect Turkey’s rights and interests in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Oruç Reis research vessel is protected by the Turkish navy, he said, addressing the commanders of the Turkish army via teleconference. Turkey will not allow any fait accompli in the region, he stated.
Meanwhile, Greece said it would request an emergency meeting of the European Union foreign affairs council, the prime minister's office said on Aug. 11.
The European Union called for dialogue. "The latest developments are extremely worrying," European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said.