Akar: Ankara will protect ‘interests’ in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has again unleashed thinly veiled threats against Cyprus and Greece, declaring that Ankara “will continue to protect its interests in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean”.

Turkey has often made clear that those interests include the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of its two neighbours.

Akar’s statement essentially rephrases Turkey’s position that it must approve and participate in any oil and gas exploration in the two seas.

Indeed, Ankara is beginning its own exploration off the northern coast of Cyprus (which is Turkish-occupied since 1974) and is in the process of buying a second drill to advance its designs.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he will defend his country’s perceived interests “to the very end”.

Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State Wes Mitchell reiterated Washington’s firm possession that as a sovereign country the Republic of Cyprus has every right to exploit its natural resources. ExxonMobil has already commenced offshore drilling of Cyprus, often with the presence of US warships in the broader area.