BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
Greece is uncomfortable with Türkiye’s new drillship in the Eastern Mediterranean, which was recently launched for hydrocarbon exploration, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Thursday.
“We sent our Abdülhamid Han drillship from the Mersin Taşucu port, but Greece was very uneasy about it.”
“Greek officials have asked, ‘What is Erdoğan doing?’ Erdoğan is doing nothing, Erdoğan is doing his duty,” the president said in response to remarks while speaking in the capital Ankara at a mass opening ceremony for 34 hydroelectric power plants.
Türkiye on Tuesday sent its fourth drillship, the Abdülhamid Han, from the Taşucu port in the country’s southern Mersin province to the Eastern Mediterranean for hydrocarbon exploration.
Erdoğan added that Türkiye has strengthened its position with its four drillships and two seismic research vessels.
As part of Türkiye’s strategy for hydrocarbon exploration, Abdülhamid Han has recently arrived at its first destination, the Yörükler-1 well offshore in the southern province of Antalya.
The ship, dubbed the strongest of the country’s current fleet of four, will drill exploration wells in the Eastern Mediterranean while other ships, the Yavuz and Kanuni, will continue drilling operations in the Black Sea.
Erdoğan also said: “From the moment we extract the natural gas, you will see how the weather changes in the whole region.”
The new addition to the fleet is a seventh-generation vessel and one of five worldwide with the capability of drilling to depths of up to 12,200 meters (40,026 feet).
The two NATO allies have long been at odds over a number of issues including offshore rights, ownership of uninhabited islets, competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants. They have come close to war three times in the past half-century, while NATO stepped in when a dispute over drilling rights for potential oil and gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea led to a tense naval standoff in the summer of 2020.
Türkiye says Greece is stationing troops on islands in the Aegean in violation of peace treaties signed after the world wars, demanding that Greece demilitarize its eastern islands, citing the 20th-century treaties that ceded sovereignty of the islands to Greece.
Greece counters that the islands need defenses given threats of war from Türkiye, which has NATO’s second-biggest military and maintains a large landing fleet on its Aegean coast.
Türkiye in recent months has stepped up criticism of Greece stationing troops on islands in the eastern Aegean, near the Turkish coast and in many cases visible from shore. These islands were required to be demilitarized under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the 1947 Treaty of Paris, so any troops or weapons on the islands are strictly forbidden.
Starting with the Treaty of London in 1913, the militarization of the eastern Aegean islands was restricted and their demilitarized status was confirmed with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The Lausanne pact established a political balance between the two countries by harmonizing vital interests, including those in the Aegean.
The 1947 Treaty of Paris, which ceded the Dodecanese islands from Italy to Greece, also confirmed their demilitarized status.
However, Greece argues that the 1936 Montreux Convention on the Turkish Straits should be applied in this case, while Ankara says Greece’s obligation to disarm the islands remains unchanged under the Montreux Convention, highlighting that there is no provision that differentiates it from the Treaty of Lausanne on the issue.
‘Yusufeli dam almost completed’
About the Yusufeli dam in Türkiye’s northeastern Artvin province, Erdogan said it is nearly completed.
“Our highest dam, ‘Yusufeli,’ which will boost Türkiye’s annual electricity production capacity by nearly 1.9 billion kilowatt-hours, is almost completed,” he said.
Erdoğan said the most important opportunity for Türkiye in domestic and renewable energy production is water resources and the structure of the country’s geography has advantages in this regard.
He added that Türkiye has now 605 new hydroelectric power plants, saying: “We no longer suffer from drought, even during the driest seasons, thanks to the fact that we have raised our country’s overall water storage capacity to over 180 billion cubic meters.”