Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the recent internal agreement between Baghdad and Arbil should set an example for sharing potential energy resources off Cyprus, vowing that Turkey will never abandon the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’ reports.
“We played a leading role in the mechanism that made the deal between Baghdad and Arbil possible. In the end, we came to a point where everyone is satisfied. We hold the same understanding for Cyprus. I believe the success of our energy diplomacy in Iraq will be repeated in Cyprus as well,” Erdoğan said in an address on 10th December, on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO).
However, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is more complex than in Iraq, as [South] Cyprus is recognised as the sole sovereign state by the international community. When the South issued licenses to foreign companies to begin oil exploration offshore the island, Turkey sent its seismic vessel ‘Barbaros’ to do its own research in the same area. It also deployed a warship to the region to monitor drilling in the South’s unilaterally declared EEZ.
Erdoğan reiterated that Turkey will continue to be involved in developments offshore Cyprus.
“We will continue our work in the region unless Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration take our warnings seriously. As with all work that takes place in Cypriot exclusive economic zones, Turkish Cypriots have equal rights by law. I want to express that we will defend their rights until the end,” he said, stressing that Turkey’s stance is to find a resolution based in international law.
Erdoğan also said that Turkey intends to carry out its own oil explorations by domestic-made seismic vessels and oil platforms, and said the first vessel will be launched into the sea in one month.
“In January, we will launch new drilling operations in the Western Black Sea region. There may be a need for a local drilling platform; we are capable of building this platform in our shipyards. I want to herald this. If need be, we can build a $1 billion-worth platform using 100 percent national resources,” he said.
Speaking on the recent deal between Russia and Turkey on the construction of a new pipeline to carry Russian gas to Europe via Turkey through a gas terminal to be stationed on the Greek border, Erdoğan said building energy cooperation with Russia is a “win-win” situation. He also emphasised that the project can be begin only after the agreement is finalised.