President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said European countries that oppose Ankara’s drilling activities off Cyprus will knock on Turkey’s door when it find natural gas or oil in the area.
“When we find natural gas or oil off Cyprus, all those countries that oppose [our drilling activities] will knock on our door [for energy],” Erdoğan told party supporters at a rally in Rize province, “because energy means power.”
Erdoğan slammed Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Turkey’s main opposition party leader, for joining the European countries’ chorus in criticizing the government’s efforts in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We will defend Turkey’s rights in the eastern Mediterranean to the fullest despite Western threats,” Erdoğan also said in Artvin province at another rally on Saturday.
The European Union considers Ankara’s drilling activities to be illegal due to the internationally recognized sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the entire island. However, the island has been de facto partitioned with the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) in the north since the 1974 Turkish occupation.
EU foreign ministers who met in Brussels in July decided to reduce pre-accession assistance to Turkey for 2020 by €145.8 million. They also suspended negotiations on an aviation agreement and halted high-level bilateral talks between the union and Ankara.
Turkey has sent two drilling ships, Fatih and Yavuz, as well as an exploration vessel to operate in waters off Cyprus, prompting accusations from Greece that it is undermining security in the region.