Joining a chorus of Turkish officials, Vice President Fuat Oktay also warned the United States against establishing a military presence on Cyprus, and ExxonMobil for drilling for oil and gas off the island where Turkey has unlawfully occupied the northern third since a 1974 invasion.
Oktay was quoted in Turkish Cypriot media as saying that Turkey would “by no means” tolerate any measures by Greece or “southern Cyprus against Turkey and its self-declared Republic on the
“As Turkey, our expectation from the US is for it to act according to the spirit of the alliance in every single area,” Oktay said during a budget speech, adding there was no willingness to make even “the slightest” compromise over the drilling.
The legitimate government of Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join while barring Cypriot ships and planes, has licensed foreign energy companies to drill in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) parts of which Turkey doesn’t recognize.
Turkey sent warships previously in a bid to keep the companies and out and succeeded in driving off a research vessel from the Italian company Eni but ExxonMobil, with the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, hasn’t blinked and has begun work.
After reports that Turkey, which said it will begin its own drilling, would get a second drillship early in 2019, the Turkish daily Yeni Safak reported that Turkish forces deployed in the Eastern
The fleet’s duty is to protect Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, the Turkish seismic vessel working in the Eastern Mediterranean which Turkey claimed had previously been the target of a Greek frigate trying to interfere with the research vessel.
“Our aim is to protect our seas from all threats and ensure we can move safely in these areas. Recently, the Eastern Mediterranean has hosted a large number of ships, including offshore aircraft ships, as well as aircraft carrier missions from different countries. The Navy has been protecting Turkey’s rights and interests in the region through Operation Mediterranean Shield since 2006,” said Western Mission Group Commander Yalc?n Ozkutuk.
“Normally, research vessels carry out their activities with support vessels. However, due to the occasional interference of Greek warships, Turkish warships are also necessary. We, as the Turkish Naval Forces, provide support and protection and do not allow Greece to violate international law,” he also added.