ATHENS – The European Union is unfairly supporting Greece's claims to waters in the East Mediterranean over Turkey's insistence it owns part of the Continental Shelf there, Vice-President Fuat Oktay said.
He warned that Turkey “will protect its rights over every cubic meter in the Eastern Mediterranean waters no matter what,” joining President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's belligerent stance.
Turkey sent the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis and 10 warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo to hunt for oil and gas, Greece responding with its Navy and the United States backing Turkey's assertion the waters aren't clear.
“We (Turkey) are well aware of peace and diplomatic language, but we will not hesitate to do what is necessary when it comes to protecting the rights and interests of Turkey. France and Greece are among those who know this best,” Oktay said in an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency.
“If Athens’ attempts to expand its territorial waters isn’t a cause of war, then what is?” Oktay asked, referring to Greece’s plans to extend its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles, with hints it could be done in the East Mediterranean and the Aegean.
Speaking after EU foreign ministers said they will consider further sanctions against Turkey over its unlawful oil and gas surveys in the Eastern Mediterranean, Oktay said that “Turkey expects equity from the EU” and that “no one should expect Ankara to take a step back based on this equity.”
“It is insincere for the EU to call for dialogue on the one hand and make other plans on the other, regarding the activities we carry out in our own continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Oktay also said via Twitter, according to Anadolu.
Greece said it won't back down from plans to extend the country’s western territorial waters to 12 nautical miles from six.
“The exercise of Greece’s sovereign rights is not subject to any form of Turkish veto,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.