Turkey will not comply with an effort to confine the country to its shorelines, but is ready to resolve the east Mediterranean issue through dialogue on an equitable basis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday.
Erdoğan’s remarks following a cabinet meeting amid increasing tensions with Greece after Turkey announced that it would be conducting energy exploration in an area of the eastern Mediterranean that Athens says overlaps its continental shelf.
“We are surely not going to comply with an effort that looks to confine Turkey, spanning over a vast area of land of 780,000-square kilometres, to our coastlines,’’ T24 news site quoted Erdoğan as saying.
Turkey has issued a new NAVTEX, blocked the sea area south of Greek islands and sent the Oruç Reis vessel for hydrocarbon exploration in the region.
European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Ankara’s increasing drilling efforts in the region, and the EU earlier this month announced sanctions on Turkey, including a freeze to 146 million euros of pre-accession assistance for Turkey for next year.
The Turkish president called on countries in the Mediterranean to cooperate in finding a solution to the issue that “protects rights of all parties.’’
Erdoğan on Friday said Turkey had resumed energy exploration work in the contested region, as Greece had not kept its promises on the issue.
“Turkey will continue with its own plans (in the region) until common sense prevails,’’ Erdoğan said.
Earlier on Monday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy accused Greece of racketing up tensions in the region.
“It is Greece and not Turkey that is increasing tensions in the Mediterranean,’’ state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Aksoy as saying.
“There is no legal basis for Greece’s objection to our (naval) activity,’’ he added.
Turkish Defense Ministry, in a tweet message, reminded all relative parties that the seismic exploration ship “Oruç Reis” has been accompanied by Turkish Naval Forces in eastern Mediterranean
In a second tweet message, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Turkish Armed Forces have taken all necessary pre-cautions to protect Turkey’s rights and interests stemming from the international law.
Erdoğan also talked about the state of Turkey’s economy, saying it had been under attack since the Gezi protests in 2013. The Turkish president said there were those disturbed by Turkey’s status as a global force, who unleashed attacks on his administration.
Erdoğan’s government has voiced many conspiracy theories since 2013, alleging that the nationwide protests over the protection of Istanbu’s Gezi Park were part of a pre-planned effort to topple his government. Neither Erdoğan nor his government have been able to forward any proof for these theories to date.
The Turkish president also ruled out going to IMF for the assistance, saying “whoever is indebted [to IMF] today, will take orders (from them) tomorrow.”
Some economists have called on Erdoğan to apply for IMF loans due to difficult economic circumstances of the country, warnings that he has ignored.