Turkey’s Defense Minister Accuses Greece, Cyprus of Provocations

Αssociated Press

FILE - Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar speaks to a group of reporters in Ankara, Turkey, late Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Turkish Defense Ministry via AP, Pool)

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Cyprus and Greece are to blame for what he called “provocative attacks” and “irresponsible statements” on the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean although it’s Turkey which has violated those countries sea territories.

"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,” Hulusi Akar said during Turkey's largest military exercise Sea Wolf, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reports.

Akar said, “inter-delegation talks have been completed in Athens in the direction of the agreement we made with Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis. I believe these talks will continue in the future period and think that they will be for the benefit of both countries,” Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying, diplomatic language saying nothing.

“Our desire and expectation are that the rights and interests of Turkey- which has the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean- and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to be respected. We expect from all the sides to respect these subjects. This is our most natural right,” Akar said.

He did not mention Turkey has sent two energy research vessels and a warship into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where foreign companies licensed by the legitimate government are drilling for oil and gas, nor that Turkey doesn’t recognize laws of the sea it’s now citing as a right to intervene.

Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third of Cyprus since a 1974 invasion and while Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he’s willing to share potentially lucrative energy revenues with Turkish-Cypriots, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci want to take part in the licensing.

CNN Turk reported that Akar said research vessel Barbaros is in the Eastern Mediterranean and “national drilling vessel” Fatih has continued drilling for oil and natural gas in what he claimed was Turkey's continental shield west of Cyprus.