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Politics

Erdogan Says Greece Will Pay Big if Turkish Ships Attacked

Simultaneously offering an olive branch and a stick, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who said dialogue would solve differences with Greece over seas boundaries – warned of a hit if Greece attacks Turkish ships in Greek waters, including an energy research vessel. 

That came after two warships from Greece and Turkey lightly collided in the East Mediterranean where Naval forces were present, including those from France, engaged in Naval exercises with Greek vessels.

Erdogan said any attack on a Turkish ship exploring for oil and gas in what Turkey said are disputed waters – backed by the United States – would pay a big cost suggesting a military response.

He said that had already happened after the collision but offered no proof nor were they any reports in any media it had occurred, leaving only his word with critics saying he's playing to a hard-core domestic base to gain favor.

“We said that if you attack our Oruc Reis you will pay a high price, and they got their first answer …” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara without giving details.

Tensions are rising in the seas around the Greek island of Kastellorizo where Turkey sent the energy research ship the Oruc Reis as well as warships protecting it, Greece's Navy responding with a heavy presence.

Turkey said it has rights to look and drill for oil and gas in what Greece claims are its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf and would not be deterred at any rate.

President Emmanuel Macron said France would increase its military presence in the region and told Turkey to pull back but was ignored again as Erdogan said he will never bend to international pressure.

Both Turkey and Greece said this week that they were willing to resolve the dispute over their overlapping maritime claims, but vowed to protect their interests and blamed the other side for the stand-off.

“If we act with common sense and reason, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone's interests,” Erdogan said earlier. “We are not chasing any unnecessary adventures or seeking tensions,” reported Reuters news agency.

In apparent reference to France, Erdogan also said Greece was being pushed into taking “wrong steps” in the region by “a country that doesn’t even have a coast in the Eastern Mediterranean.” 

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