Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would not accept Greece’s attempts to “imprison” Turkey on its shores as tensions continue to rise over disputed maritime territory in the eastern Mediterranean, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Anadolu cited Erdoğan as saying on Tuesday that, as Turkey was a vast country, “of course, we will not consent to an attempt to imprison us on our shores over several square kilometres of islands”.
“No country in the world would bow to such an absurd and unfounded demand. Let’s come together as all the countries in the Mediterranean and find a formula that is acceptable to everyone and protects everyone’s rights,” he added.
The latest dispute over hydrocarbon exploration rights in the region revolves around the small Greek island of Kastellorizo, 2 km from Turkey’s southern coastline.
Greece placed its armed forces on high alert and deployed naval and air force units on Monday after Turkey’s seismic exploration ship Oruç Reis arrived in the area accompanied by Turkish naval ships, in a move which Athens described as a threat to peace and stability in the region.
The latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean are “extremely worrying” and must be solved through dialogue, European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano said on Tuesday.
Turkey’s move prompted Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to convene the government’s national security council on Monday, and Athens issued a maritime safety message, known as Navtex, which called Ankara’s actions “unauthorised and illegal activity in an area that overlaps the Greek continental shelf”.
Çağatay Erciyes, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official in charge of maritime and aviation boundary affairs, said Turkey’s position on eastern Mediterranean maritime jurisdiction is supported by international courts and state practice.
Attached images on Erciyes’ Twitter account on Monday stated that claims based on Greece’s 10-km2 island of Kastellorizo, which is 570 kilometres from the Greek mainland, is “against the principle of equity, international law and jurisprudence.”
R/V Oruç Reis launched its off-shore survey activity today in the Turkish Continental Shelf declared to UN.
Greece makes a big fuss over this activity…………. pic.twitter.com/LnqHuqGxYA
— Çağatay Erciyes 🇹🇷 (@CErciyes) August 10, 2020
The two countries reached the brink of an armed confrontation at the end of July after Ankara’s decision to send the Oruç Reis escorted by warships to Kastellorizo to conduct oil and gas exploration. Ankara later said it would pause exploration and drilling for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean for a month to reduce tensions with Greece and the European Union.
On Friday, however, Erdoğan announced his country would resume exploration in territory disputed with Athens, a day after Greece and Egypt signed a maritime boundary deal that demarcates an exclusive economic zone for oil and gas drilling rights.
Erdoğan claimed the Greek-Egyptian deal was a response to a maritime agreement Turkey made with Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) in November.
(All times Turkish time – GMT+3)
21:50 – EU expresses solidarity with Greece and Cyprus
The European Union has expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus over the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek City Times reported.
“The EU stands with full solidarity on the side of Greece and Cyprus and there is no doubt about that,” it quoted Peter Stano, the EU’s foreign affairs spokesperson, as saying during a briefing with journalists.
“Developments have shown that more needs to be done to reduce the tension and reverse the very negative and unfortunate escalating climate,” Stano said.
21:45 – Turkey’s National Defence Ministry vows to stand by Blue Homeland doctrine
Turkey’s National Defence Ministry said it remained determined to seek Turkey’s rights and interests, vowing to remain true to the Blue Homeland doctrine.
“We are determined and capable from now on too to protect all the rights, concerns and interests in our Blue Homeland. Our oath is to our Blue Homeland,” the Ministry said.
Turkey’s Blue Homeland (Mavi Vatan) doctrine lays claim to expansive territorial waters in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black seas.
— 24 TV (@yirmidorttv) August 11, 2020