Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay said that the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey will not remain as bystanders to drilling activities for hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking to Turkish state broadcaster TRT, Özersay said that the TRNC did not intend to raise tensions in the region.
He however reminded that every step taken by the Greek Cypriot Administration would be met with a step of their own.
Pointing out that the area where drilling was taking place was a jointly owned area, Özersay said that it would be naive to expect the Turkish Cypriots to be idle bystanders.
“We are only doing what we said we would be doing. We are not preventing anyone. We are only exercising our own rights”, he added.
Commenting on the threat of an international arrest warrant being issued for the crew of the Turkish drillship ‘Fatih’, the foreign minister said that this was nothing but political rhetoric.
“If the Greek Cypriot Administration believes it can issue an arrest warrant in a disputed area it means that drilling cannot take place anywhere in the world. The Greek Cypriot side is fooling itself. They had made similar threats in the past regarding property cases. Such threats are not realistic”, he added.
Özersay also argued that the Turkish Cypriots had just as much a right as Greek Cypriots to exploit the natural resources off the coast of the island.
“If these rights belong to both peoples as stated by the UN, then why is it that only the Greek Cypriot side can benefit from this? Why would it be a problem for the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to pursue these rights? We shall not remain idle bystanders on this issue”, he added.