Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says a fourth ship will be sent to the eastern Mediterranean "as soon as possible," as EU unveils measures against Turkish hydrocarbon exploration.

In this file photo taken on June 20, 2019 journalists walk next to the drilling ship 'Yavuz' employed to search for oil and gas off Cyprus, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul.
In this file photo taken on June 20, 2019 journalists walk next to the drilling ship 'Yavuz' employed to search for oil and gas off Cyprus, at the port of Dilovasi, outside Istanbul. (AFP)

Turkey will continue exploring for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean and a fourth drilling ship will be dispatched to the region "soon," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday. 

Cavusoglu's remarks came a day after the EU unveiled measures against Turkish drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean. 

"If you [EU] take such decisions against Turkey, we will increase activities. We have three ships in the eastern Mediterranean. We will send the fourth one as soon as possible," Cavusoglu said at a news conference in North Macedonia.

Turkey slams EU

The foreign ministry had earlier said the European Council's decision on the talks with Ankara won't affect Turkey’s determination to continue hydrocarbon activities in the area.

Turkey will continue to protect its own as well as the Turkish Cypriots' rights and will increase its activities in this aspect, the ministry said in a statement.

This decision shows how prejudiced and biased the European Union is on the Cyprus issue as Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights to the natural resources of the island, are not mentioned and ignored, it said.

It added the decision is the latest example of how Greeks and Greek Cypriots abuse EU membership in line with their maximalist positions and how other EU countries have become an instrument for carrying out this abuse.

"As we have repeatedly emphasised in the past, our hydrocarbon activities in the eastern Mediterranean have two dimensions: the protection of our rights on our continental shelf, and the protection of the equal rights of the Turkish Cypriots, who are co-owners of the Island, over the hydrocarbon resources of the Island," the statement added.

Since 2003, the Greek Cypriot administration has signed agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel to determine their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey refuses to recognise these agreements saying Greek-led administration does not represent all the inhabitants of the island.

After a dozen of fruitless talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, in 2011, the Turkish Republic of the Northern Cyprus (TRNC) issued a permit to Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to conduct explorations off the TRNC coasts.

Turkey is the sole country that recognises the TRNC as an independent country since 1983.

EU declaration 

The European Council published a final declaration on Monday following a meeting of the EU's foreign affairs council which was attended by foreign ministers of its member states.

The declaration said that in light of Turkey’s continued and new "illegal" drilling activities, "the Council will suspend negotiations on the Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and agree not to hold the Association Council and further meetings of the EU-Turkey high-level dialogues for the time being."

The Council agreed to reduce the pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 and invites the European Investment Bank to review its lending activities in Turkey, "notably with regard to sovereign-backed lending."

Turkey's opposition criticises EU 

Turkey's main opposition party also slammed the European Council's decision to take measures against Ankara.

"We have rights in the eastern Mediterranean, we will defend these rights to the end," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Republican People's Party (CHP) chief, told his party's parliamentary group on Tuesday.

Kilicdaroglu noted that they would never accept "possible sanctions imposed by the EU."

"As long as the EU does not abandon its application of double standards to Turkey, it has no value on this territory," he stressed.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies