The Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday that Cyprus was a “national cause” and Turkey was ready to do whatever necessary to support Turkish Cypriots, Anadolu news agency reported.
“Everyone should know that Cyprus is our national cause. Turkish Cypriots are our brothers, we are ready to do whatever it takes to protect the rights and interests of our Cypriot brothers there,” he said.
Tensions have been rising recently between Turkey and Cyprus and Greece due to competing claims over potentially rich hydrocarbon reserves off the coast of the divided island. Cyprus has been split since 1974 between a Greek-Cypriot administration in the south, recognised internationally, and a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot government in the north recognised only by Turkey.
Turkey has made clear its intentions to drill in areas in the west of the divided island, despite objections from the Greek Cypriots, Greece and the European Union that some of the areas explored by Turkish vessels lie in the Cypriot state’s claimed exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday that the Turkish leadership is pursuing a neo-expansionist policy in the eastern Mediterranean and was flouting international law.
“Greece is always open to a dialogue with Turkey, but dialogue not under the regime of threats, insults or attempts to create a fait accompli,” he said.