By Ali Murat Alhas
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey is set to continue its search for energy resources in Black Sea region, where it has so far discovered 405 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas, the country's president said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference following an hours-long cabinet meeting in the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered remarks on various topics including the novel coronavirus outbreak, as well as the country's energy research and foreign policy.
Erdogan said a discovery this weekend in the Black Sea that raised the known capacity of previous natural gas reserves from 320 to 405 bcm would finally allow Turkey to meet its hydrocarbon needs to some extent, adding that Turkey's drill ship, the Fatih, would start on fresh operations next month.
More good news may await the country, he added, as the vessel is slated to start operations on a new Black Sea well — Turkali 1 — next month with available data suggesting the possibility of similar discoveries in the region.
Erdogan went on to say that the natural gas to be extracted would significantly contribute to Turkey's peace, prosperity and security, as the country enjoys the financial benefits of the find.
Turkey's growth has triggered its involvement in external issues due to both its history and other obligatory reasons as it could never abandon innocent people in dire need, said the president.
He added that Turkey could not allow Iraq to become a safe-haven for terrorists, nor Syrians to suffer at the hands of terror groups or the regime, nor putschists to disintegrate Libya. It also cannot permit violations of its own rights or those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the Eastern Mediterranean region, he underlined.
– Azerbaijan vs Armenia
Erdogan emphasized that Ankara would fully support Azerbaijan against Armenia, which has been occupying Baku's territories for decades and launching attacks on civilians in violation of international law.
New border clashes erupted between the two ex-Soviet republics Sept. 27, when Armenia first launched attacks on civilian settlements, and since then it has continued attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces.
During the past 10 days, Armenia broke humanitarian cease-fires in Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
In two attacks on Ganja, a major Azerbaijani city far from the front line, Armenian missiles killed two dozen civilians, including children, and injured scores of others.
Last Thursday, Armenia targeted civilians visiting a cemetery in the western city of Tartar, killing four and injuring the same number.
A new humanitarian cease-fire took effect on Saturday.
The Turkish president also commented on the coronavirus outbreak, saying authorities would closely monitor people's compliance to measures adopted against the disease which has so far claimed 9,445 lives in Turkey.
Erdogan said the human-trial phase in Turkey's vaccine research is likely to start in two weeks, noting that the government's hoped to complete work on a vaccination by Spring.
Moreover, fifth and ninth-grade students will start going back to school for face-to-face classes in Turkey as of Nov. 2, while others will continue with online lessons as part of virus measures.
Turkey has so far confirmed more than 351,000 COVID-19 cases, with almost 307,000 of them having fully recovered. A total of 9,445 deaths have been reported and 1,545 patients are categorized as "critically ill."