Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that "Turkish Cypriots in Northern Cyprus have rights in the eastern Mediterranean and we cannot allow anyone to confiscate these rights".
Erdogan voiced his opinion in a press statement yesterday, adding that "the Turkish Cypriots have the same right to the Mediterranean's natural and underground resources as the Greek Cypriots, in accordance with international law".
The statement comes after Cyprus announced earlier this week that it had signed a $9 billion contract with Israel to extract gas from the eastern Mediterranean. Energy Minister for Cyprus, George Lakkotrypis, told reporters that the contract guaranteed Cyprus an average annual income of $520 million over the life of the gas field.
This deal has angered Turkey, causing it to send drilling vessels into Cyprus' "exclusive economic zone" (EEZ) last month and announce that it will begin exploring more energy reserves. The US Ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Garber, this week expressed her "deep concerns" over Turkey's continued drilling off the coast of Cyprus, urging it to halt operations.
Erdogan has, however, confirmed that his country will still carry out explorations in the eastern Mediterranean.