Turkey will not withdraw ships, Erdogan says; Greek delegation leaves in protest


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's forceful defense of a highly contentious maritime boundaries agreement with Libya at a pipeline opening ceremony led to the withdrawal of an attending Greek delegation, led by Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Dimitris Oikonomou.

Speaking at the opening of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) Saturday, Erdogan said that Turkey will not withdraw its ships from the Eastern Mediterranean, while defending a highly contentious maritime boundaries agreement signed with Libya’s internationally recognized government last week.

“The ships will continue to perform their duties,” Erdogan was quoted by local media as saying of Turkey’s two drillboats and two seismic survey vessels.

“Turkey will not let others crush its and Turkish Cypriots’ interests,” he said.

Referring to the memorandum of understanding signed with the Tripoli-based government, Erdogan dismissed the reactions from Greece and Egypt.

The current situation “will take a different dimension” once the deal is endorsed in Parliament, he said.

TANAP is part of the pipeline system that will bring natural gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy, the latter three countries through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)