A former member of Turkey’s special underwater forces team (SAT) who was deployed on Imia during the 1996 standoff that brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war has been appointed commander of one of the most important naval bases in the eastern Mediterranean, according to reports.
According to a presidential decree published in the official gazette, Rear Adm. Ercan Kirectepe has been appointed commander of the Iskenderun Naval Base in southern Turkey’s Hatay province, the same reports said. The base is assigned to Turkish Navy’s Southern Sea Area Command.
A total of 127 military generals and admirals were on August 22 appointed to land, naval and air force commands, the presidential decree said.
Kirectepe has in the past faced charges of having links to the Gulen movement, accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the 2016 failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The charges were later dropped for lack of evidence.
The status of Imia, two uninhabited islets in Greek seas close to the Turkish coast, has been disputed by Turkey.
Meanwhile Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey will “resolutely” continue to explore hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Speaking at a press conference in Ankara following a meeting with Ersin Tatar, the “prime minister” of the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, the Turkish strongman reiterated his country's intention to lay a claim to any fossil fuels found off the island.
“No project ignoring Turkey or Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus can be realized in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.