Undercutting his own declaration not to create further provocations with Greece, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will order a resumption of energy exploration in the East Mediterranean near Greek islands and off Cyprus.
That came only a couple of weeks after he met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels where they two publicly were diplomatic said they wanted diplomacy, not confrontation.
Turkey disputes Greek waters but Erdogan had pulled out an energy research vessel and warships earlier from near the Greek island of Kastellorizo when the Erdogan said Turkey had been receiving “signals of natural gas” in the eastern Mediterranean and vowed to continue defending Turkey’s rights in the region, said the news agency Reuters.
“Whatever our rights are, we will take those one way or another. And we will carry out our oil exploration operations in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, and all those seas,” he said, without elaborating or providing a timeline.
Greece and Turkish officials at a lower level earlier this year also resumed so-called Confidence Building Measure talks that turned into inconclusive chit chats with no binding results.
Erdogan spoke up after the EU promised Turkey 3.5 billion euros ($4.15 billion) not to unleash more refugees and migrants on the bloc through Greece and its islands as he as allowed human traffickers to do for six years.
Then he said it wasn't enough, again backing the EU into a corner in a tactic he has repeatedly used to gain advantages, although as part of the new monies he said he would contain refugees and migrants until 2024, a promise he hasn't kept before.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier warned that Turkey would go ahead with the energy hunt in another snub at the EU which has found itself essentially powerless to stop Turkey doing what it wants.