Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar made clear that Turkey will not sit and watch without doing anything, while others drill for oil and gas.
Turkey will not let a fait accompli occur in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, and Cyprus, Turkey's defence chief said on Sunday.
Hulusi Akar was briefed about Turkey's activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean seas while aboard the frigate accompanying Turkey's Yavuz drilling vessel.
"We have defended our own rights, and the people of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to the end and will continue to do so. Nobody should try to test our strength," Akar said.
He also stressed that Turkey will not sit and watch without doing anything, while others drill for oil and gas.
Akar visited the TRNC to inspect troops and to hold a series of talks with Turkish Cypriot officials.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay also brought the issue forward, reiterating that Turkey will “resolutely” continue its drilling activities in Eastern Mediterranean.
“Fatih, Yavuz, and Barbaros drilling vessels are in the region now. Oruc Reis is also sailing to the region. Our determination at this point is extremely certain," Oktay told reporters following Eid prayers in Istanbul.
"Turkey will continue to defend its rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots, without any hesitation," he said.
Turkey's drilling activities are being held in Turkey's own continental shelf and within the framework of an agreement with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the TRNC also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since spring this year, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels – Fatih and most recently Yavuz – to the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, which was bought from Norway in 2013 has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
The TRNC was founded in 1983, following a Greek inspired coup aiming at annexing Cyprus.
Several attempts have been made to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure, with the most recent attempt ending in 2017.