ANKARA, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Turkey will protect Turkish Cypriots' rights related to drilling and exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
"Our Turkish kin in Northern Cyprus are entitled to the same rights as the people in southern Cyprus, especially on matters such as oil in Eastern Mediterranean," Erdogan was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying.
He also said Turkish newly-purchased oil drilling ship is carrying out exploration in the region.
His remarks came after an agreement signed by the Greek Cypriot Administration and several foreign companies for exploration and extraction off Cyprus.
Ankara criticizes the agreement has breached the rights of Turkish Cypriots to potential hydrocarbon deposits,and vowed its ships would continue to explore for oil and gas in the sea that Cyprus considers part of its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Turkey, Greece and the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas exploration in Eastern Mediterranean.
Ties between Ankara and Athens have strained over attempts to tap gas and oil in the disputed area.