ANKARA – Turkey will match Greece’s boosting of its arsenal, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, also declaring his country has hegemony over the seas between the countries and will decide what energy projects in the Eastern Mediterranean will be allowed.
He had said earlier that he will send an energy research vessel and warships back aground the Greek island of Kastellorizo to look for oil and gas and would do the same off Crete.
That, and repeated violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and warships led Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to make deals to buy French and American warships and French fighter jets.
In an interview with the pro-government private TV network NTV – Erdogan’s administration is jailing other journalists – he warned that, “Turey will not sit and watch Greece strengthen, it will be shielded.”
That came as he goes back-and-forth between offering negotiations over the rights to the seas or gunboat diplomacy, with Turkey also drilling off the coast of Cyprus, ignoring soft European Union sanctions.
Turkey is opposed to the planned EastMed pipeline to connect natural gas to Greece from Cyprus and Crete and Erdogan got a boost when the United Stats withdrew its support for the project, favoring him.
It’s designed to take gas from off-shore reserves in the Levantine Basin into Greece, and in conjunction with the Poseidon and IGB pipelines into Italy and other EU regions.
“The EastMed pipeline project was not economically or technically viable… it was presented by Greece and the Greek Cypriots for reasons of political expediency,” he said. “It is gratifying that the US has finally seen this reality,” he said.
The Turkish Security Council, which convened under Erdogan, also again demanded that Greece take troops off Greek islands near Turkey’s coast, saying that violates terms of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that Turkey doesn’t recognize unless invoking to its advantage.