By Murat Demirci
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) fully supports Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, Foreign Minister Kudret Ozersay said on Thursday.
"We fully stand by and are a supporter of Turkey in its fight against terrorism and in its steps that have been taken to ensure its territorial integrity," Ozersay, who is also the deputy prime minister, told Anadolu Agency.
Ozersay said Turkey reserves the right to take such steps to protect its territorial integrity and security under the framework of international law.
Syria is a country that "feeds instability" and affects neighboring countries, he added.
"You cannot let others use your own territorial integrity in such a way to threaten other countries' security," he said.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and the "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.
Greek Cypriot gas exploration criticized
Ozersay said the TRNC will not permit the Greek Cypriot administration to continue engaging in unilateral natural gas exploration activities in the Mediterranean.
"They have to show their readiness to share [natural resources'] richness with us. I am talking about natural gas. Is Greek Cypriot side ready to share the richness and wealth in the island with Turkish Cypriots or not?" he said.
The minister added Turkish part of the island, together with Turkey, had chosen a diplomatic path to decrease tension over this issue.
"This vicious circle will continue. We want to put forward an approach that targets the result, not the negotiation," he said.
Ozersay said "mentality change" is needed for a mutual solution in the island.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power. It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the latest initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K., collapsing in 2017.
Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the failure of the talks, also faulting the European Union for admitting the Greek Cypriot administration into the union in 2004 although Greek Cypriot voters had recently rejected a peace deal.