Turkey’s vice president Wednesday reiterated Turkey’s support for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), the decades-long divided Mediterranean island.

“We desire an island where the Turkish Cypriots produce, progress, and increase the level of welfare,” Fuat Oktay told a webinar organized by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC) Economic Organizations Platform.

Oktay added that Turkey’s view of the TRNC has never been the product of a desire for gain.

Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the north and Greek Cypriot administration in the south since a 1974 military coup aimed at its annexation by Greece, and Turkey’s subsequent military intervention to end years of persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriots.

Tensions have been high for weeks in the region, as Greece has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting the rights of Turkey and the TRNC in the region.

It has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, trying to hem in Turkish maritime territory to only the Gulf of Antalya.

*Writing by Handan Kazanci

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