Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reached out for a diplomatic answer with Greece over Turkey’s plans to drill for oil and gas off Greek waters but said his country was ready to rumble if it came to that.
Akar said Turkey wants to settle differences in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean and Cyprus through dialogue and good neighborly relations at the same time it keeps drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters and said it won’t change plans to do the same off Greek islands.
Continuing the mixed messages however, he added to what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has kept saying: that Turkey wants talk but won’t pull back the threat of its guns, bringing periodic fears of a conflict.
During a speech at the Aksaz naval base in the southwestern Mugla province, Akar reportedly accused Greece of trying to turn its differences into a European Union EU-Turkey dispute in calling for sanctions over the drilling plans.
The EU, however, sided with Turkey over fellow bloc member Greece at a Dec. 10-11 meeting where Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ calls for penalties were set aside until March, 2021.
According to the report, Akar defended Turkey’s decision to acquire the Russian-made S-400 missile system to beef up security, adding that “some activities with the US and especially with NATO, will be negatively affected due to sanctions.”
Greece, Turkey and the US belong to the defense alliance whose security was compromised by Turkey buying the missile system from an ideological enemy of the mutual group, which could be used against Greece.