Turkey and Greece: Ankara announces military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, amid heightened tension in the region

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Archive photo of two Turkish warships

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Getty Images

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Archive photo of two Turkish warships

Turkey announced that it decided to conduct military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean during the next two weeks.

Ankara informed the sailors that it would conduct artillery shelling exercises from Saturday in the northwestern Cyprus region.

The move comes amid tensions between Turkey and the two neighboring countries, Greece and Cyprus, over their respective maritime borders and gas exploration rights.

Turkey is prospecting for gas in waters that Greece and Cyprus consider their own.

On Friday, the European Union said it was preparing sanctions against Turkey, which sparked an angry response from Turkish Vice President Fuat Aktay.

After a meeting of European Union foreign ministers, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, warned Turkey of the consequences of continuing what he described as “aggressive actions” in the eastern Mediterranean.

And the Turkish Foreign Ministry considered that the European Union’s position was baseless.

Turkey insists that it is exploring sources of energy within its continental shelf, and rejects Greece’s claims of maritime rights in the region.

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Getty Images

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Turkish exploration efforts are challenging an agreement between Greece and Egypt

A few days ago, the Turkish Defense Minister confirmed in statements to reporters in Ankara that his country “has no ambitions in the lands or seas of its neighbors, and it is open to dialogue to solve the outstanding problems, but it will not allow anyone to rape a single drop of its waters.”

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held Greece responsible for any tension in the region, adding that his country would not back down.

Although both Turkey and Greece are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), they have a record of historical disputes.

Countries compete for energy sources in the Mediterranean.

During the past few years, huge gas reserves were discovered off the coast of Cyprus, which prompted the Cypriot government, Greece, Israel and Egypt to cooperate in order to make the most of these resources.

And earlier in August, Turkey sent a seismic research vessel in the disputed area, in a move that prompted Greece to raise its alert.

Turkey’s dispatch of this ship came in defiance of a Greek-Egyptian agreement concluded to create an exclusive economic zone in waters that contain oil and gas reserves.

This agreement contradicts another competing agreement to establish an exclusive economic zone that Turkey and the internationally recognized government in Libya seek to conclude.

And entered on the front line between Turkey and Greece, NATO, the European Union, Israel, Egypt, and the United States. The role of each capital was characterized by the nature of its position on the differences between the two countries.



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https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-53962722

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