Turkey warns Europeans against any steps against it because of exploration of the coast of Cyprus
Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Gawishoglu has confirmed his country's support for the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the island's natural resources.
He warned the EU not to take any steps against his country in response to its support for Turkish Cypriots in oil and gas exploration off the island.
The European Union has imposed punitive measures, including the suspension of high-level talks with Ankara, negotiations to conclude an air transport agreement and others.
"If any action is taken against us, we will never hesitate to respond appropriately and we will increase our activities in Cyprus, and we will do what is necessary to preserve the rights of Turkey and the rights of the northern Turkish Cypriot Republic," the minister said.
"The proposal by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot people is very simple: Turkish Cypriots have a right to the resources on the island, and this right must be guaranteed."
Ankara has vowed to continue drilling for gas on the coasts of Cyprus, which are believed to have large reserves of it, in defiance of Western pressure including the EU threat to impose sanctions.
Earlier in the day, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that the two national exploration vessels, "Fatih, Yawoz" have begun exploration for energy sources within the continental shelf west of the island of Cyprus, noting that it has already informed the United Nations of the extension of the shelf.
The country has been granted exploration licenses in this shelf from the Republic of Northern Cyprus for energy extraction on behalf of the Turkish Cypriots.
The ship "Fateh" began exploration 42 miles (67 km) west of the coast of Cyprus, while the "Yawoz" east of the island will protect the Turkish navy.