Provocative Turkish Presidential aide Yigit Bulut, who has been taunting Greece and Cyprus as his country’s warships continue to block foreign energy companies from drilling off the island, now said even the presence of ships from the US Navy in the area will stop Turkey’s aims.
“Not the sixth, but not even if the 66th fleet can put Turkey on her knees if it comes to the eastern Mediterranean,” he said, adding that “Nothing can stop us” from what critics said are Turkey’s aims to control the Aegean and Cyprus, where it has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Ships from the American fleet were sent off Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which Turkey doesn’t recognize and where it wants to drill for oil and gas, at the same time US oil giant ExxonMobil was sending a ship toward an area where it is licensed to operate.
Turkey’s warships have already succeeded in making a drilling shop from the Italian energy company Eni veer off toward Morocco amid reports it would be sunk if it tried to defy the order to go back.
Speaking on Turkish public television, Bulut also combined nationalism with religion, just as has President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won’t recognize Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join, and as Cypriot ships and planes are barred.
Bulut, who had said that any Greek, including the Prime Minister, who stepped foot on the disputed rocky islets of Imia that both countries claim would have his arms and legs broken, fired off another defiant shot.
“When this people (Turkish) rises up to its stature, and it has already done so… no power, not even a global one, can bend it; and I say this as a part of the Turkish people and the Islamic nation,” he said.
“We challenge Greece to set foot on Imia. If that happens we will defend [the islets] to the death from the moment that Erdogan gives the order,” Bulut said.
In February, he said that, “We will break the arms and legs of any officers, of the prime minister or of any minister who dares to step onto Imia in the Aegean,” firing a shot across Greece’s bow.
Bulut also said Turkey would strike off Cyprus if any foreign company licensed to drill there by the legitimate government tried to proceed. The warships already scared off an Italian company energy research vessel but French and American companies said they would go ahead and ignore the threat.
Bulut, who is known for shooting off his mouth, was quoted by the Cyprus News Agency as telling Turkish state broadcaster TRT that Erdogan is prepared to call a “strike” at any “attempt at provocation.”