Turkey warns against resources ‘extortion’ in Med Sea
“We will never allow attempts of extorting natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by excluding us and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” Erdoğan said at the delivery ceremony of the TCG Burgazada, the third ship of Turkey’s first indigenous warship program MİLGEM, to the Turkish Naval Forces in Istanbul.
Erdoğan said those who thought they could take steps contrary to Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean have started to realize they made a “huge” mistake.
“We do not have an eye on countries’ rights, laws and territories. We only protect the rights of our country and brothers,” he added.
“Just like we let the terrorists in Syria have it, we will not allow the thugs in the seas run free,” said the president.
Attempts to tap gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean, along with a dispute over Greece’s maritime borders, have recently caused friction between Athens and Ankara.
Turkey and the Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
The first borehole will be some distance from the disputed territory, which lies further south and around Cyprus.
Turkey is already undertaking oil and gas exploration using two seismic vessels.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, which was bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration operations in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
On Oct. 18, the Turkish navy blocked a Greek frigate trying to interfere with the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa research vessel.
The incident prompted an immediate response from Turkish officials who warned Greece against taking action in the Mediterranean Sea that would spark tensions in the region.
Erdoğan also hailed the MİLGEM project and the country’s efforts to decrease foreign dependency in the defense sector.
“We have lowered our foreign dependency in the defense industry from 80 percent to 35 percent,” Erdoğan said.
“We trusted our engineers and trusted our technicians, researchers, academicians, officers and most importantly, our entrepreneurs. Products that compete with the highest league countries in the world have come out,” he said.
The president recalled that laser tests were held in Ankara last week, and Turkey is among the top five-six countries in the world in the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) production.
“The further we develop the defense industry, the more we will move further,” said Erdoğan.
“We will further support this field in the coming period,” he said.
Burgazada is the third Ada-class corvette produced under the MİLGEM project. The first was the Heybeliada, launched in 2008.
The ships, which are named after the Princes’ Islands off Istanbul, are designed for search and rescue, patrol and anti-submarine warfare duties. They are armed with a 76-millimeter gun, missiles and torpedoes and carry a Seahawk helicopter.
The ships have a displacement of 2,400 tons, a maximum speed of more than 29 knots (33 miles an hour) and a range of 3,500 nautical miles.
Erdoğan also attended the first welding ceremony for submarine Aydın Reis, which is a part of Turkey’s program to produce its own submarines.