Turkey will never allow attempts to “extort” natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday.
“We will never allow attempts of extorting natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by excluding us and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Erdoğan said at the delivery ceremony of the TCG Burgazada, the third ship of Turkey’s first indigenous warship programme MİLGEM, to the Turkish Naval Forces in Istanbul, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reported.
Erdoğan said those who thought they could take steps against Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean have begun to realised that they have made a “huge” mistake.
“We do not have an eye on countries’ rights, laws and territories. We only protect the rights of our country and brothers,” he added. “Just like we let the terrorists in Syria have it, we will not allow the thugs in the seas run free,” he said.
Hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and a long-running dispute with Greece about maritime borders have increased friction between Turkey and Greece.
Turkey and the Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore hydrocarbon research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
The first borehole will be some distance from the disputed territory, which lies further south and around Cyprus. Turkey is already undertaking oil and gas exploration using two seismic survey vessels.
Meanwhile, Greek Cypriot daily ‘Kathimerini’ reports that AKEL Secretary-General, Andros Kyprianou, has said the statements made by President Erdoğan regarding the exploitation of the natural resources of the eastern Mediterranean are unacceptable. He noted that there is an option and that is to work for the immediate resumption of negotiations on the basis of the Guterres framework, because that is the only way to make Erdoğan’s goals unattainable.
Before leaving for Brussels, Kyprianou referred to Erdoğan’s recent statements on the South Cyprus’ EEZ and the exploitation of the natural wealth of the eastern Mediterranean.
He said that these statements “are provocative, unacceptable and indicative of the attitude that characterises Tayyip Erdoğan and the way in which he behaves politically”. He added that “we nevertheless consider that they should be counted when we talk about the choices we have on the Cyprus problem”.
Kyprianou went on to say that “that we have an option and that is to work for the immediate resumption of negotiations on the basis of the Guterres framework from Crans-Montana  and the political will to reach agreement as soon as possible. If this is not feasible, the responsibility should lie exclusively on the Turkish side and be clear to the international community”.
He also noted that “this is the only way to make it impossible for Mr. Erdoğan and anyone who has any intentions against the real interests of both Cyprus and the Cypriot people”.