ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wringing concessions out of the European Union, NATO and the United States, will make good on his vow to send another energy research ship into the East Mediterranean, claiming Greek waters.
The vessel, the Abdülhamid Han, will launch operations in August, said Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said, reported Kathimerini, no details given on the location or whether it would be accompanied by a warship.
Turkish officials have previously said that the rig’s mission will be the designated Blue Homeland with Turkey claiming huge areas of the seas near Greek islands and Cyprus, where it has been already drilling.
The EU has put up only soft sanctions for the Cyprus drilling, which haven’t worked, and Erdogan has become increasing belligerent in his rhetoric, a Turkish map showing it owns many Greek islands, including Crete.
He pulled an energy vessel away from the island of Kastellorizo previously when the EU was considering tougher penalties and as fears grew of a naval conflict over rights to the seas.
Turkey and Greece have been locked in disputes over rights to the seas with Turkey saying it would challenge the sovereignty of islands near its coast unless Greece removed troops posted there but got nowhere.
Turkey also said it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its maritime boundaries to 12 miles, which would effectively cut off Turkey from the Aegean at the same time it got EU approval for a Turkaegean trademark to lure tourists.