ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will go into a June 28-29 NATO meeting in Madrid determined to keep to his plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands and said he won’t be stopped.
Turkey “will take all necessary steps to protect our rights in the Mediterranean and Aegean,” he said before the highly-anticipated meeting although he said he won’t talk to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“With our four drilling rigs and our two seismic vessels, we are determined to continue our activities in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, without any interruption,” Erdogan said, reported Kathimerini and Reuters.
Erdogan also said he will do “whatever is necessary for our country’s rights and interests” at the meeting where Mitsotakis said he will try to use diplomacy but will dig in his heels if provoked too much.
Turkey has also demanded that Greece take troops off islands near Turkey’s coast, citing the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that Erdogan doesn’t recognize, has and continued to send fighter jets into Greek airspace.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has mostly sided with Erdogan’s concerns, including the Turkish leader saying he would veto any hopes of Sweden and Finland – European Union members – from joining the alliance.
Erdogan claimed that Finland and Sweden are friendly to terrorist groups trying to disrupt Turkey’s government and said he would bring proof showing the network of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed for a 2016 attempted coup in Turkey.