Turkish parliament supports gov’t gas drilling activities in eastern Mediterranean

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Turkey's first drilling vessel, Fatih, starts conducting its first deep drilling in offshore Antalya on the county's southern Mediterranean coast, Turkey on October 30, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Four political parties in the Turkish Parliament issued a joint response to the European Union’s decision to halt high-level talks and curb funding to Ankara over its drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, pledging support to the government for its natural gas operations, the Hürriyet Daily News reported on Friday.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), opposition İYİ (Good) Party and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) issued a joint statement, vowing to stand against actions that will “undermine the rights of Turkish Cypriots and Turkey” regarding the sharing of natural gas in the region.

“We strongly condemn all attempts of a fait accompli, ignoring the legitimate rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish Republic stemming from international law,” said the declaration.

“We invite the EU to take a fair, equitable and impartial stance on this issue in line with international law.”

“We find it right and appropriate for our state to continue the exploration for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.”

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) abstained from signing the declaration. HDP group deputy chair Hakkı Saruhan Oluç said they are in favor of a suspension of the entire hydrocarbon exploration and drilling activities of all sides in the region until Turkish and Greek Cypriots agree on a political settlement.

Two Turkish drilling ships, the Yavuz and the Fatih, have recently been dispatched to the region with the support of the Turkish Naval Forces. Turkey’s first seismic vessel has been working in the Mediterranean since April 2017.

Following a decision by the European Council to impose sanctions on Ankara over its drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, Ankara announced that Turkey would send a fourth ship to that part of the sea as part of its hydrocarbon drilling activities.

Turkey says its actions abide by international law and that it is drilling inside its continental shelf, but it does not recognize the ethnically split Cyprus as a sovereign state with its exclusively Greek Cypriot administration.

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