Erdogan Backs Turkish Drilling, Greek Delegation Leaves Pipeline Opening

Αssociated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoganErdogan (AP Photo)

ΑΝΚΑΡΑ - With tension rising between the countries, a Greek delegation at the opening of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) walked out after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defiantly defended claiming parts of Greece’s sovereign waters after he sent drillships into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to hunt for oil and gas.

The whole Greek team, led by Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Dimitris Oikonomou left in protest at Turkey signing an agreement with Libya over maritime borders in the seas between Turkey and Greece.

Erdogan, with no one able to stop him, said Turkey would not withdrawn its ships from the Eastern Mediterranean after claiming waters around Rhodes and as far as Crete, which Greece had protested, in vain.

“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 off Cyprus, despite protests from the island’s legitimate government, Greece, the United States and soft sanctions issued by the European Union, accused of being too timid with him. “Turkey will not let others crush its and Turkish Cypriots’ interests,” he said, before rejecting criticism from Greece and Egypt about the agreement with Libya.

It said it “will take a different dimension” once the deal is endorsed in Parliament, Kathimerini reported. 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,) a pipeline project to transport natural gas, starting from Greece via Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy and to Western Europe.