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We will never bow to banditry on our continental shelf
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Mr Erdogan made his remarks against a backdrop of rising tensions in the region as a result of Turkey’s decision to send research vessel the Oruc Reis to undertake a seismic survey close to the Greek island of Megitsi, located less than two miles off the Turkish coast. He vowed never to submit to sanctions nor to incursions on its claimed territory. He added: “We will never bow to banditry on our continental shelf.
“We will not back down against the language of sanctions and threats.”
The Turkish Oruc Reis survey ship will continue energy exploration until August 23, he added.
The ship was accompanied by several Turkish naval vessels.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last week warned “no challenge will go unanswered” in reference to the dispute.
The European Union yesterday held a special meeting of its Foreign Affairs Committee at which the situation was discussed.
A statement issued subsequently said: “Ministers stressed in particular that recent naval mobilisations by Turkey do not contribute to finding solutions.”
The row has been simmering for several days, with Mr Erdogan delivering a fiery speech in Ankara yesterday in which he condemned what he characterised as Greek double-standards in an apparent reference to similar research undertaken by Greece.
He said: “Since 2003, the Greek Cypriots have treated the island like their property and issued petroleum and natural gas exploration licences within the island’s maritime jurisdiction, over which they have no rights.
He also claimed: “Some of the Greek Cypriots, so-called exploration zones also overlap with Turkey’s continental shelf.”
He added: “Another objective of those unlawful steps is to imprison Turkey, the country with the longest coastline along the Mediterranean, in the Gulf of Antalya.
“All those steps are designed to contain Turkey from the sea.”
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