Turkey vows to protect Turkish Cypriots’ rights, slams Greek policies
Turkey will never abandon the Turkish Cypriots and take all the necessary steps to protect their rights, the defense minister has said, slamming Greece and Greek Cyprus for disrespecting Turkey’s interests and rights in the Aegean and Mediterranean.
“It should be well known that no project that ignores and disrespects Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the Mediterranean can succeed,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told a symposium about the developments in the Aegean and Mediterranean on Sept. 9 in İzmir on the Aegean Coast.
Akar referred to Greece and Greek Cyprus’ efforts to confine Turkey to Antalya Bay by ignoring the fact Turkey has the longest shoreline in the Mediterranean and suggesting that a 10-kilometer-square island can generate 40,000 kilometers square exclusive economic zone.
Turkey will not allow the right of Turkish Cyprus to be disregarded, Akar said. “We will never let their rights be usurped by a fait accompli,” he said, citing Greek Cyprus’ unwillingness to share the hydrocarbon revenues with Turkish Cyprus.
Akar explained that the Turkish side has presented its will and did its part for reaching resolution on the island but all these efforts were nixed by Greece and Greek Cyprus. “It’s therefore required that a solution should be based on the establishment of two independent, equal states,” he said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a video message to the symposium, calling on Greece to resolve the problems through dialogue and by avoiding unilateral acts. Erdoğan recalled that thousands of refugees, who fled the civil war and massacres in Syria that have been going on for years, lost their lives in the Aegean.
“It has been engraved in the memories as a shame in the modern world. Western countries, especially Europe, have not learned the necessary lessons from the drama of the baby,” he said recalling the death of a child named Aylan on the shores of Aegean while his family wanted to migrate to Europe by boat.
Erdoğan criticized the policies of Greece on the issue of Syrian refugees, saying that while Athens did not manage the migration crises but harbored the members of FETÖ.
“Instead of making a meaningful contribution to our well-meaning efforts, Greece has accelerated its maximalist policies. While the refugee crisis could have led to cooperation between the two countries, this historical opportunity was wasted due to Greece’s uncompromising attitude,” he stated.
Turkey wants the Aegean Sea to be remembered with peace and friendship rather than tension and conflict, he said. “With this understanding, we have taken care not to be the party that increases the tension until now. We acted calmly in the face of the violation of the non-military status of the islands in the maritime jurisdiction areas and in the steps of our neighbor Greece, especially the Navtex, which increased the tension. We gave priority to solving our problems through dialogue and negotiation,” Erdoğan said.