Turkey says it will initiate counter-legal actions against Cyprus if necessary

The Turkish foreign ministry said in a written statement on Monday that Cyprus government had crossed the line by issuing arrest warrants for personnel of a Turkish drillship, adding that Turkey would take counter measures if necessary. 

With a move adding to the already escalated tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over hydrocarbon resources, the Greek Cypriot authorities on Monday issued arrest warrants against 25 people including crew assisting the Turkish drilling vessel Fatih and officials at firms partnered with the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation.

The move came after Turkey announced last week that it would send a second drillship named Yavuz to begin drilling off Cyprus by July, in addition to Fatih, which has been inside the Cyprus’ unilaterally declared Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) since early May.

Turkey, the only country to formally recognise the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, disputes the boundaries of the EEZ and says exploitation of the island’s resources by the Greek Cypriot administration infringes on the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

“If the Greek Cypriot Administration, who ignores the very existence of the Turkish Cypriots and violates their rights, has really taken such decision crossing the line, it will be considered by us as null and void. No one should have any doubt that the necessary response will be given, in case of such an insolence,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

The Turkish ministry said Cyprus could not take such a legal action based on its national law for a unilaterally claimed maritime area. “Consequently, we will initiate the necessary counter-legal actions, together with our relevant authorities,” it said. 

"The news that the Greek Cypriot administration issuing arrest warrants for the crew of our Fatih drillship and officials of the companies cooperating with TPAO is a clear provocation,” Anadolu Agency quoted the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Omer Çelik as saying on Monday.