'No one can stop us from pursuing rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots in Eastern Mediterranean,' says President Erdogan

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech during a meeting at Presidential Complex, in Ankara, Turkey, May 1, 2019.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech during a meeting at Presidential Complex, in Ankara, Turkey, May 1, 2019. (AP)

Turkey will not be deterred by any cause to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

“No one can stop us from pursuing rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots in Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdogan told an Istanbul dinner hosted by a local association.

On the reported decision of Greek Cypriot administration to issue arrest warrants for crew members of the Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih, Erdogan said Turkey’s drill ships will “resolutely” continue its studies in the region.

The Fatih drillship launched offshore operations on May 3 in an area of 75 kilometres (42 nautical miles) off the western coast of the island and is set to be joined by the drillship Yavuz.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area and Ankara has the right to hydrocarbon drilling as well.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Turkey intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure.

The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries—Turkey, Greece, and the UK—ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

'Turkey is being isolated'

Turkey's main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said on Tuesday that Turkey needs to make foreign policy changes that reflect its national interests, including on Cyprus.

“The policy in Cyprus needs to change. A new move needs to be made. If this is not implemented, we will face much bigger problems in the future," he said.

Kilicdaroglu also spoke about drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and said Turkey is being isolated in the international arena.

"Only one state is not there: Turkey. Everyone has a say … Only Turkey has been excluded," Kilicdaroglu said.

S-400 missile defence system

On Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400, Erdogan reiterated that it is a “done deal” and Turkey will receive orders soon.

Tensions between the US and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile defence system which Washington said will jeopardise Turkey's role in the US F-35 fighter jet program and could trigger congressional sanctions.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defence system from the US with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.

US officials advised Turkey to buy the US Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s from Moscow, arguing the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.

Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Source: AA