Turkey to respond to any intervention in East Med: Minister

Turkey to respond to any intervention in East Med: Minister

KOCAELİ- Anadolu Agency

Turkey has responded to all interventions on its energy exploration ship in the Eastern Mediterranean and will continue to do so in the future, the Turkish defense minister said on Aug. 14. 

"No intervention on our ships have been or will be left unanswered. We want everyone to know that we are unyielding on this issue," Hulusi Akar said in a video conference with top commanders on duty in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, including the ships accompanying its seismic research vessel, the Oruç Reis.

"We're determined to protect our rights and interests in our seas and to do what is necessary and we're capable of doing so," Akar added.

"The Republic of Turkey as a state doesn't covet anyone's land," said Akar, underlining that Ankara respected its neighbors' territorial and political integrity.

"Greece doesn't recognize international law in the Aegean and Mediterranean, only selfish, one-sided demands and approaches that protect its own interests and are incompatible with the facts. We endeavor to explain that the activities carried out this way are not compatible with reason, logic or law and that it doesn't benefit anyone."

Akar stressed that a recent maritime delimitation agreement signed last week between Greece and Egypt had "no legal basis" and that both countries were "at loss."

He also asserted that international disputes must be resolved through dialogue as the "most important tool in solving the problems between Turkey and Greece."

Earlier this week, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

The agreement came only a day after Ankara said it would postpone its oil and gas exploration as a goodwill gesture.

But after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal "null and void," Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis seismic research vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country's continental shelf.

The ship will continue the two-week mission until Aug. 23 along with the Cengiz Han and Ataman.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the only solution to the dispute was through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey's rights.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

EU urges dialogue, negotiation in Eastern Mediterranean 

Dialogue and negotiation are key in addressing issues of delimitation of maritime boundaries and exploitation of resources, EU foreign ministers said on Aug. 14. 

“Three words reflect the outcome of the discussion: solidarity, de-escalation, and dialogue,” a statement said following the video conference meeting.

It reaffirmed the bloc’s solidarity with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, and underlined “the serious deterioration in the relationship with Turkey is having far-reaching strategic consequences for the entire EU, well beyond the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The statement claimed that Turkey’s recent activities mount tension, and “Immediate de-escalation by Turkey was considered crucial.”

Also stressing the importance of relations with Turkey, the ministers said, “issues related to delimitation of maritime boundaries and exploitation of resources therein can only be addressed through dialogue and negotiation, in good faith, in accordance with international law and in pursuit of the principle of good neighborly relations, and not through unilateral actions and the mobilization of naval forces.”

Recalling the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council on July 13, the ministers reiterated strong support for efforts to re-establish dialogue and facilitate re-engagement with Turkey.

“At the same time, the High Representative/Vice-President [Josep Borrell] is to prepare options on further appropriate measures in case tensions do not abate,” it said.

It noted that a broader discussion about ties with Turkey will be held in August, at the informal Foreign Affairs Council (Gymnich).

Turkey urges Greece not to provoke its research vessel in Med