Ankara renews East Med threat

Turkish Defense Ministry insists it will ‘resolutely’ continue drilling, research activities in region

Ankara renews East Med threat

Pushing its “Blue Homeland” doctrine that foresees a Turkish sphere of influence across vast swaths of the Eastern Mediterranean to the detriment of neighboring countries, including Greece, Turkey’s Defense Ministry stated on Tuesday it will “resolutely” continue its activities in the region and published maps outlining a “Turkish continental shelf” and the area covered under the illegal Turkish-Libyan maritime borders memorandum.

“The protection and defense of our rights, interests and interests in our Blue Homeland will continue with determination, as has happened so far,” it said.

Analysts note that Ankara’s announcement came just a few hours before the signing of the Greece-US military cooperation agreement that provides for an increased American presence in the northern port city of Alexandroupoli. It also follows the Greece-France agreement on mutual defense assistance that has reportedly particularly irked the Turkish capital. 

The Turkish Defense Ministry’s statement was issued in response to accusations by a part of the Turkish opposition and some retired officers that Ankara was retreating from the Blue Homeland theory with the recent navigational advisory, or Navtex, it issued for the activities of the Oruc Reis research ship.

Ankara says the Oruc Reis is in the Mediterranean and that the Barbaros and Turkey’s three floating drilling rigs are continuing their work in the Black Sea. 

“The areas and fields defined in the current exploration and drilling activities are determined according to the scientific, technical requirements and needs, according to our continental shelf, which was defined by the agreement that we signed with the TRNC [Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus] in 2011 and the borders of which were notified to the UN on March 18, 2020,” it said.

In this context, it noted, the area required for the Oruc Reis in the southwest of the Gulf of Mersin was published in the Navtex, the ministry said.

The announcement concludes by emphasizing Turkey’s determination to continue investigations in all areas that Turkey claims its continental shelf extends and leaves open the possibility of future Navtexes for the Oruc Reis and other ships.

Last Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu referred for the first time to the possibility of unilaterally declaring Turkey’s exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean.

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