Turkey and Greece have been embroiled in a bitter battle for the control of disputed areas of the Eastern Mediterranean after Ankara extended an oil-exploration mission in the region. Turkish President Recep Erdogan reacted with fury after Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed he would extend his country’s nautical miles to 12 miles into the Ionian Sea despite calls for deescalation. Speaking to the press on Wednesday evening, President Erdogan said: “Turkey will take what rightfully belongs to it in the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea.
“Just as we don’t set our sights on anyone else’s land, we won’t make any concessions regarding what belongs to us.
“That’s why we are determined to do whatever it takes, economically, politically and militarily.”
The extension of nautical miles does not affect the contested areas but Turkey warned any similar moves could constitute an act of war.
Turkey and Greece have long been at loggerheads but the additional clash over energy resources has caused tensions to further escalate.
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President Erdogan’s warning came as Prime Minister Mitsotakis also announced four European nations will be joining Greece in military drills across the East Mediterranean between August 26 and 28.
The military exercise is expected to take place between southern Crete and Cyprus, which are also in the disputed area.
The Greek Ministy of Defence said in a statement: “Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have agreed to deploy a joint presence in the eastern Mediterranean within the framework of the Quadripartite Cooperation Initiative.”
German Foreign Minister Haiko Maas, who has been acting as a negotiator between Athens and Ankara, earlier this week warned that “any spark” could ultimately cause an open conflict between the two countries.
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A hot mic last night revealed insight on the state of the ongoing negotiations between Greece and Athens.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer admitted tensions remained high as she spoke to EU Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell without realising her mic remained active following a joint conference.
Asked about the talks, Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “Hard. A little bit more smooth on the Greek side but really hard on the Turkish side.”
Mr Borrell could be heard replying: “The Turks are very upset with this deal with Egypt. They feel that the Greeks are not reliable”.