The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on Greece to negotiate over controversial territorial claims in the Mediterranean. Otherwise, the country would have to accept the consequences, said Erdogan on Saturday at the opening ceremony for a hospital in Istanbul.
“You will understand that the Turkey has the political, economic and military power to tear up the immoral cards and documents that have been imposed, ”said the Turkish President. Erdogan referred to areas that Greece and Cyprus have marked as their economic zones in the sea.
Turkey has also announced a new military exercise off Cyprus. Under the name “Mediterranean storm” it should begin on Sunday and last until Thursday, as the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday. Units from the Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus are also to take part. The aim is to improve “mutual training, cooperation and interoperability” between the Turkish mainland and the troop command on the divided Mediterranean island, it said.
The Turkish news agency Ihlas also reported on Saturday, that around 40 Turkish tanks had been moved from the Syrian border to the Edirne region on the Greek border.
Greece accuses Turkey of illegal behavior
Turkey is engaged in a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas development rights in the eastern Mediterranean. All countries have used the navy and air force to advance their conflicting claims in the region.
NATO had previously announced that military representatives from Turkey and Greece had started technical talks in order to minimize the risk of armed conflict. Greece accuses Turkey of illegally exploring natural gas reserves off the Greek islands.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since a Turkish military intervention in 1974. In the north, a Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was set up with Turkish help, but this is only recognized by Ankara. Turkish troops are also stationed there. The entire island is internationally recognized as the Republic of Cyprus and has been a member of the EU since 2004.