While proclaiming it wants diplomacy to solve a dispute with Greece over boundaries in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, Turkey is pushing ahead with its Blue Homeland doctrine that claims parts of those waters outright.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated Turkey’s plan to control the seas while agreeing to exploratory talks with Greece, a 61st round resuming Jan. 25 in Constantinople after four years and a next round set for Athens in March.
But at the same time Turkey sent an energy research vessel near the Greek island of Limnos and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said despite any talks he would go ahead with plans to hunt for oil and gas off other Greek islands.
Akar said that, “We have no claims on anyone’s land or sea. Nevertheless, we will not back down on our rights,” which makes claims. “We are determined and capable of defending our rights across the ‘Blue Homeland’ as well as Cyprus,” he said.
That was in reference to Turkey already drilling off the coast in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) while defying soft European Union sanctions, the bloc’s leaders planning to meet in March to consider Greece’s demand for penalties against Turkey if the talks don’t work.
He also again claimed that Greek fighter jets harassed the Turkish research vessel TCG Cesme in the Aegean Sea, which Greece denied.
“I am once again stressing that such behavior is far from a gesture of good neighborly relations,” Akar said, without mentioning that Turkey has repeatedly violated Greek airspace and waters.
He also accused Greece of seeking to turn its disputes with Turkey into EU-Turkey or even US-Turkey disputes. “This is neither legal nor moral. It has no practical value whatsoever,” he said, reported Kathimerini.