Erdogan digs in heels over Cyprus EEZ gas exploration, S-400 system

Erdogan digs in heels over Cyprus EEZ gas exploration, S-400 system

Turkey does not intend to stop exploring for natural gas off the coast of Cyprus, despite European Union threats last week of sanctions and the significant strain in relations with Athens and Nicosia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

“We have four ships in the area and we have taken measures. The prime minister of Greece has been talking on his own, but regardless of what he says, we have rights there,” Erdogan was quoted by Greek media as telling lawmakers of the Justice and Development (AKP) Party in translated comments.

Erdogan was responding to a statement last week by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who said that Athens “will not allow” Turkey to proceed with reported plans to expand its area of exploration into Greece's exclusive economic zone.

“Until we achieve a fair distribution of natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, we will continue to move decisively in the area,” Erdogan was quoted as saying on Tuesday, going on to add that Turkey would also prevent any efforts to drill for gas that “ignore” the rights of Turkey and the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus.

Erdogan also appeared adamant on the issue of the Russian missile defense system, once more flouting strong American objections to its acquisition.

“We will hopefully start receiving the S-400 air defense systems which we ordered next month. We will not take a step back from this,” Erdogan was quoted by Turkey's state-run Anadolou Agency as saying.

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