Turkey to continue E. Med drilling, seismic activities

Foreign minister says Ankara's 'goodwill' was not reciprocated by Greece

Turkey to continue E. Med drilling, seismic activities

Turkey is set to issue a license for drilling in the western part of its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean region, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks came at a news conference held following his meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov.

Cavusoglu said the Turkish administration demonstrated its goodwill in the region where tension has been high following the discovery of energy resources, by making "temporary" gestures in line with the demands of Germany and some other European countries.

However, according to the Turkish top diplomat, Ankara's gestures were not reciprocated by the Greek administration and Greek Cypriots and Turkey reactivated its drilling vessels in response.

"We will defend rights of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, and not make any concessions," he said, adding seismic and drilling activities would be conducted this month.

"Oruc Reis [seismic research vessel] has gone to the region, we had designated the western frontier of our continental shelf in new regions as of late August. By giving licenses to those areas as well, we'll continue all kinds of seismic research and drilling activities. We are fully determined," he said.

Cavusoglu went on to say that Turkey had consistently demonstrated a positive approach to the matter and accused Greece of ill-will against Turkey.

Azerbaijan-Turkey ties

Azerbaijan's newly-appointed top diplomat said he was glad to make his first official foreign visit to Turkey.

Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov underlined that the relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan were developing in all areas, adding that their trade volume continued to expand. 

Bayramov also thanked Ankara for its support during recent border tensions with Armenia in Azerbaijan's northwestern Tovuz area, leaving at least 12 Azerbaijani soldiers -- including two senior officers -- martyred and another four soldiers wounded. 

"Brotherly Turkey always categorically supports Azerbaijan's position based on international law," he said, adding that Baku also always supported Turkey's "just stand." 

"Azerbaijan and its nation always stand by Turkey. Our unity is eternal and we build our future based on this solid ground."

Baku accused Yerevan of "provocative" behavior and Turkey warned that it would not hesitate to oppose any attack on Azerbaijan.

Bayramov said Armenia's aggressive politics were the main obstacle towards a sustained peace in the region.

"Azerbaijan-Turkey relations, which are based on historical roots and brotherhood, are developing in all areas, including the political, economic, humanitarian, and military fields."

The development of relations with strategic partner Turkey is Azerbaijan's foreign policy priority, he said.