Repeating more warnings, Turkey said it would not accept Cyprus’ legitimate government to keep allowing foreign energy companies, including from the United States, to drill for oil and gas off the island.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier sent warships into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which his country doesn’t recognize, as it doesn’t the government. Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion and keeps a 30,000-strong standing army there.
The Turkish National Security Council which met Sept. 20 under Erdogan, discussed developments in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, where Erdogan has kept up provocations, sending warships past Greek islands and fighter jets to violate Greek airspace.
Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has a military base on the island, are guarantors of security. The last round of talks trying to reunify the island collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan said a Turkish army would be on the island “forever,” and that he wanted the right to invade again when he wanted.
The council said that Turkey will defend the rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots by any means necessary, Kathimerini reported.
The meeting came a few days before the annual General Assembly opening of the United Nations in New York. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was at the Swiss talks and failed to broker a deal, becoming the latest in a long line of UN leaders, diplomats, envoys and officials to find an answer to the vexing question.
The UN is expected to take up the question of Cyprus and drilling with Exxon-Mobil and the French energy company Total expected to pick up drilling off the island this autumn.
In July, upset that they were supporting Cyprus’ rights to have energy companies drill for oil and gas, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry warned Ambassadors of other countries on the island to stop after Israel and Egypt backed the exploration even if it meant military force.
“The remarks made by some Ambassadors during a recent conference in the Greek Cypriot Administration, in support of the unilateral hydrocarbon-related activities being conducted by the Greek Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, are unwarranted,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.
Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that Turkish-Cypriots would not accept anything less than political equality in Cyprus.
“Greek Cypriots must stop acting like the sole owners of Cyprus. The fact that both sides on the island are politically equal will never change,” Cavusoglu wrote.