Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the “Greeks appeared to be frightened of” the ongoing large-scale Blue Homeland military exercise in the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. He added, however, that the “exercise is not directed against Greece.”
Erdogan’s remarks were made after a pair of Turkish F-16s conducted an overflight east of Amorgos island in the central Aegean. Nonetheless, the absence of serious tensions over the Aegean during the Blue Homeland drill, which was seen as a show of force to Greece and Cyprus, has reportedly been received positively in Athens.
Speaking to two TV stations, Kanal 24 and TV-360, Erdogan also added that Turkey is in contact with companies that are drilling for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean to gauge whether they can conduct joint operations together. He did not name the companies in question.
Turkey has objected to Cyprus’s energy projects in the region and vowed that it will, along with Turkish Cypriots in northern occupied Cyprus, conduct its own drilling.
Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu will meet twice later in March as part of efforts to keep lines of communication open between the two countries.
The first meeting will take place in Brussels on Thursday on the sidelines of the international conference on supporting the future of Syria. The two will men will meet again later in the month in Ankara to lay the groundwork for the creation of a supreme council of cooperation.
Jerusalem will be hosting the trilateral summit between Greece, Israel and Cyprus in March, which will also be attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.