by DAILY SABAH- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivers a speech after a Cabinet meeting, Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 24, 2020. (AA Photo)
Turkey will not take “the slightest step back” from the activities of its seismic vessel Oruç Reis nor the naval ships accompanying it in the Eastern Mediterranean, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after Greece on Monday said it would on Tuesday conduct a navy and air force exercise in the region where Ankara is prospecting for oil and gas, as the uneasy neighboring countries remain locked in a dispute over offshore energy rights.
Erdoğan called Athens’ statement a “spoiled act” that endangers the coastal and navigational safety of all ships in the region.
“The ones who throw Greece in front of the Turkish navy will not stand behind them,” Erdoğan said after a Cabinet meeting. He added that Athens does not have the right to broadcast maritime navigational and weather advisories, known as Navtex, in areas claimed by Ankara.
“Greece has declared its own Navtex unlawfully and in a spoiled manner … With this approach, Greece has sown chaos that it will not be able to escape from,” he stressed.
Hours after Athens’ announcement, Turkey said that its navy will also carry out a military exercise south of the Greek island of Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday.
“Turkish and allied navy ships will conduct maritime trainings at eastern Mediterranean on 25 August 2020 in order to promote coordination and interoperability,” the National Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
“From now on, Greece will bear sole responsibility for all conflicts in the region, and it will be the only one to suffer,” Erdoğan said.
The Oruç Reis is surveying for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, escorted by warships. Turkey announced Sunday the seismic vessel would be continuing work through Aug. 27.
Turkey resumed energy exploration earlier this month in the region after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.
Greece and other countries have tried to box in Turkey’s maritime territory and energy exploration rights, despite Turkey having the longest coastline on the Mediterranean.
Black Sea natural gas discovery
Turkey has also been exploring for hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea. On Friday, Erdoğan announced the discovery of a 320 billion cubic meter (11.3 trillion cubic foot) gas field, the largest such find in Turkish history.
Erdoğan on Monday said the discovery is a prelude to upcoming good news from the Mediterranean.
The gas field is located at a depth of 2,100 meters (6,890 feet) below the seabed in the Sakarya Gas Field, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) off the Black Sea coast. The gas field could come on stream as soon as 2023, Erdoğan had said, stressing that Turkey was determined to become a net energy exporter.
There is substantial evidence that the natural gas discovery foreshadows a much bigger gas find, and hopefully, the good news will continue, the president said.
Fight against terrorism
Erdoğan also said that the kind of mentality that sides with terrorist groups instead of supporting democratic countries has come into U.S. politics, in reference to Turkey’s fight against YPG/PKK terrorists in Syria.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.
Despite the YPG/PKK’s terrorist status, the U.S. has supported it as a supposed ally against the Daesh terrorist group in northern Syria.
“A mentality which looks the other way when our country is being attacked by terrorists and hopes to see the results when we face a coup is a stain on the name of democracy,” Erdoğan said, referring to recent controversial remarks by U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
In a video clip that went viral, Biden said: “We can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdoğan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process.”