Turkey plows ahead in Mediterranean expansion

Turkish President Erdogan risks a multinational conflict by pushing oil and gas exploration in Greek-claimed waters

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on a Mediterranean drilling showdown with Greece over the weekend, signaling he would not be deterred by attempted French policing of the conflict.

“We will never bow to banditry on our continental shelf, nor will we pull back in the face of sanctions and threats,” Erdogan told party loyalists gathered in the Black Sea city of Rize on August 15.

Erdogan’s defiant speech came days after French forces joined Greek and Cypriot warships and planes for military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, threatening an even greater internationalization of the Turko-Hellenic dispute.

One week ago, Ankara dispatched an oil and gas survey and drilling ship, under naval escort, to an area of the sea long claimed by Greece. In response to the perceived intrusion of the Oruc Reis vessel, Athens placed its armed forces on high alert.

Mobilizing armed forces across the country, on August 11, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias called on Turkey to “end its illegal actions that undermine peace and security in the region.”

 

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