U.S. President Donald Trump, in a phone call on Aug. 26 with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, expressed concern about tensions between Greece and Turkey and urged the two NATO allies to commit to a dialogue about their dispute over the eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. president also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, discussing “regional developments and tensions in the region."
Turkey on Aug. 27 issued a new Navtex to carry out live-fire gunnery exercises in the eastern Mediterranean on Sept. 1 and 2. The Navtex issued at 9.30 a.m. comes as Greece, Cyprus, France and Italy conduct joint military exercises south of Cyprus amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Greece.
Four F-16s from the UAE have landed on the Greek island of Crete to take part in drills with the Hellenic Air Force, The Jerusalem Post reported. The UAE's move comes amid rising tension between Turkey and Greece over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
The U.S. State Department has updated its travel advisory for those traveling to Turkey, saying that level 3 caution (“reconsider travel”) is still valid due to the COVID-19. Only Turkey's southeastern provinces of Şırnak and Hakkari well as any area within 10 kilometres of the Syrian border fall under level 4 (“do not travel”), the U.S. State Department said.
Turkey has given passports to a dozen Hamas members in Istanbul, a senior Israeli diplomat said on Aug. 26. Charge d'affaires Roey Gilad said Israel had already told Turkey last year that Hamas was carrying out "terror-related activity" in Istanbul, but Turkey had not taken action.
Greece wants to extend its western territorial waters, Erdoğan says Turkey won’t compromise its rights at sea
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis said on Aug. 26 that the country plans to extend the western limit of its territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to 12 miles, while President Erdoğan called on Ankara's counterparts to avoid mistakes that he said would bring their destruction. "If there is anyone who wants to pay its price, they are welcome to confront us. If not then they should go away so we can handle our own business," Erdoğan said.
The annual Divine Liturgy at Surb Khach (Holy Cross) Armenian Church on Akhtamar Island in the eastern province of Van will be held with limited participation on Sept. 6 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Four Turkish citizens who traveled to Donetsk on March 1 have been stranded for six months because they're unable to cross over to Russia for transportation back. The four friends have been denied help by Turkish embassies, Ukrainian officials and Russian officials alike.
Murat Yetkin writes: Turkey had already proven that it would afford any conflict for its rights in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, and it was not bluffing. There is enough proof to show that Turkey is always ready to burn the bridges if the issue is about Cyprus or the eastern Mediterranean, regardless of the government in charge.
France is joining military exercises with Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean amid a worsening dispute between Turkey and Greece over energy resources in the region, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Aug. 26. Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception," Parly said on Twitter, adding that it "should not be a playground for the ambitions of some."
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu has said that Turkey is ready for talks with Greece without preconditions about a growing row over eastern Mediterranean gas reserves. Çavuşoğlu also warned Greece against taking "missteps" in the region, saying Turkey is ready to do “whatever is necessary without hesitation.”
The United States has criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for hosting Hamas leaders in Istanbul, saying that it "strongly objects to" the move. "We continue to raise our concerns about the Turkish government's relationship with Hamas at the highest levels," read a statement by State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. Turkish Foreign Ministry said Ankara "fully rejects" the U.S. criticism and called on Washington to use its influence for a "balanced policy."
Germany urged Greece and Turkey on Aug. 25 to solve their dispute over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea through dialogue, warning of the risk of a military confrontation. "The current situation in the eastern Mediterranean is equivalent to playing with fire," Heiko Maas said after meeting his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Athens. "Every little spark can lead to catastrophe."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has voiced his disappointment over former U.S. Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's remarks on backing Turkish opposition. "We were talking and we drank tea together in the past. How can you make those comments?" Erdoğan said on Aug. 24.
The Russian military reported on Aug. 25 that a joint Russia-Turkey patrol came under fire in Syria's Idlib once again. "On Aug. 25, during the 23d joint Russian-Turkish patrol along the M-4 highway in the vicinity of the Urum al-Joz settlement in the Idlib de-escalation zone's southern part, the patrol motorcade was fired upon from a hand anti-tank grenade launcher," Russian Defense Ministry said.