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Politics

Erdogan Keeps Drilling Ship Near Turkey, Sends F-16’s Over Greece

ATHENS – Taking heat at home after keeping a new energy drill ship near his country’s coast instead of off Greek islands, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by sending F-16 fighter jets over Greek air space during religious holidays.

That, said Kathimerini, broke the informal summer caesura during which the countries refrain from provocations so as not to interfere with tourism they depend on, especially during the waning COVID-19 pandemic.

Erdogan had taunted Greece that Turkey’s newest drill ship, the Abdulhamid Han, would go near or in Greek waters, perhaps off the island of Kastellorizo – less than 5 miles from Turkey’s coast – where he had sent energy ships before.

Instead, the vessel was sent to an area about 55 kilometers (34 miles) off the coast of Gazipasa, in Antalya province, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said, not challenging Greek waters.

“We are determined to follow up on the happy news from the Black Sea with new good news in the Mediterranean this time. With the sweat of our engineers and the prayers of our nation, may the fate of our ship be good and its drilling fruitful,” Donmez tweeted.

But Erdogan’s sending fighter jets over the islands of  Kinaros, Leros and Kandelioussa, during a key religious holiday on Aug. 15, was seen as an indication of him wanting to save face after holding back the energy ship.

“It sends the message that Ankara does not intend to respect the moratorium that had been agreed between Greece and Turkey some time ago for the summer period, and especially on the religious and national holidays of the two countries,” the paper also said.

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