Turkey will not allow Greece to interfere in its activities in the eastern Mediterranean, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday, after Ankara said last week a Greek frigate had harassed a Turkish energy exploration ship in the region – an incident denied by Athens officials.
In an interview with state-owned Anadolu Agency, Akar said no project was possible in the eastern Mediterranean without the involvement of Turkey and northern Cyprus, a breakaway state in the Turkish-occupied part of the island only recognized by Ankara.
“Our warships are providing the necessary protection in the region. We will never tolerate new harassment,” Akar said.
Akar’s interview came a day after Turkey warned Greece that if it extends its territorial waters in the Aegean from 6 to 12 nautical miles it will be a cause for war.
“We have [taken] all kinds of measures. I want everyone to know that we will not tolerate a fait accompli of any sort on this subject,” Akar said.
“We are in favor of solving problems with talks and peaceful methods before they turn into a hot conflict in any way,” he added.
In a statement Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy referred to a declaration by the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1995 that if Greece unilaterally extended its territorial waters it would be a “casus belli” for Ankara.
The declaration, he said, “contains a necessary political warning and is still in force today,” adding that “our views and warnings have also been conveyed to the ambassador of Greece in Ankara.”
“Turkey cannot tolerate any step that is not based on mutual consent in the Aegean Sea where two countries have opposite coasts,” he said. [Reuters, Kathimerini]