Turkey steps up drilling activities around Cyprus
Turkish, right, and Turkish Cypriot breakaway flags, on a building as a Turkish military helicopter flies during a military parade marking the 45th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion in the Turkish occupied area of the divided capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Saturday, July 20, 2019. Cyprus was split into Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Turkey's vice-president said Saturday that his country is dispatching a survey vessel to join two drillships and another research boat to search for hydrocarbons off ethnically divided Cyprus.
Turkey will "never submit" to sanctions imposed by the European Union over its drilling in those waters and won't hesitate to defend its energy rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots, Vice-President Fuat Oktay said.
The EU has said Turkey is breaching international law by drilling in waters where member nation Cyprus has exclusive economic rights.
Oktay was speaking at celebrations marking the 45th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion of the east Mediterranean island nation that followed a coup mounted by supporters of union with Greece.
In a letter to the Turkish Cypriot leader commemorating the anniversary, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his military would not hesitate to act again in Cyprus if necessary.
"No one should doubt that the glorious Turkish military, which does not consider Cyprus any different from its own homeland, will not hesitate, if needed, to once again take the step it took 45 years ago when it comes to the Turkish Cypriots' lives and safety," Erdogan wrote.
But Erdogan said Turkey also would work for a "fair and lasting resolution" in Cyprus.
The island nation's internationally recognized government is seated in the southern, Greek Cypriot side of Cyprus. A declaration of independence by Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus' northern third is recognized only by Turkey which maintains more than 35,000 troops there.