Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı has called on the Greek Cypriot administration to avoid moves that would raise tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, pledging retaliation. Akıncı was referring to unilateral moves by Greek Cypriot to search for gas off the divided island.
“We have told the Greek Cyprus administration ‘Let’s establish a joint commission for cooperation.’ But, unfortunately, they did not approach establishing a committee or planning this issue together and have continued their unilateral action. We have told them, ‘If this [unilateral gas search] is done this way, you leave no choice for Turkish Cyprus and Turkey but to act in the same way,’” Akıncı said on June 11 during a ceremony in Kyrenia.
“We have told them [the Greek Cyprus administration], ‘If you are doing [a gas] search, we’ll similarly do so, and we are. We have told them, ‘If you come to the drilling stage, we will also come to that stage, and we will also drill,’ and now we are that point,” he said.
“The richness in the Eastern Mediterranean belong to all of us, and this is accepted. But when the issue comes to drilling, we come across with a Greek side that says, ‘Here is our area of sovereignty,” Akıncı said.
Akıncı’s comments followed reports that the Greek Cypriot administration issued an international arrest warrant for 25 people including the personnel of the Turkish drillship, Fatih, and officials from companies cooperating with the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).
The drillship Fatih launched its offshore drilling operations on May 3 in an area located 75 kilometres (around 41 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island.
“The Eastern Mediterranean can come to be a lake of peace, a peace basin. Everyone would benefit from this. We do not want a politics of tension, a politics of conflict. We want peace and reconciliation, but I am saying all these with the determination of protecting our rights,” Akıncı said.