Showing no signs he cares one whit what anybody thinks – including the United States or the European Union – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, indicating he will keep energy drillships in Cypriot sovereign waters, said he won’t let potential riches be taken away.
“Those who think that the wealth of the island and the region only belongs to them, will face the determination of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots,” Erdogan said in recorded message at a conference in the capital Ankara.
The title of the conference was The Decisive Word in Cyprus, reported the Anadolu News Agency, a Turkish site. Turkey has two energy research vessels looking for gas in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in defiance of American demands to stop, EU soft sanctions and from Greece, which – along with Turkey and the United Kingdom – are guarantors of security there.
Erdogan said Turkey – which keeps a 35,000-strong standing army on the northern third of the island that’s been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion, will defend the rights of Turkish-Cypriots and its own claims to waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said his country – a member of the EU that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005 while refusing the recognize the legitimate government and barring its ships and planes – would give Turkish-Cypriots a 30 percent share of revenues from any or gas deposits discovered by foreign companies licensed to drill in the EEZ.
But Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said that’s not enough and they want Turkish-Cypriots to take part in the licensing process and have more of a say on the island after the last round of reunification talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Those fell apart when Akinci and Erdogan said they would never remove the army and wanted the right to militarily intervene again when they wanted and with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was at the negotiations, refusing to step in to demand a stop to the Turkish drilling although Anastasiades had asked him to do so.