Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that his country was ready for a military conflict with Turkey to defend its rights if necessary, although indicating that it was a not a desired solution.Erdoğan says Turkey, Libya to advance exploration, drilling in east Med Sea
“We are preparing for any scenarios. Among these possibilities is also military intervention. We do not want to go there, but we want to make it clear that we will do whatever it takes to defend our sovereign rights to the fullest extent possible,” Panagiotopoulos was quoted as saying by Sputnik.
The Greek minister made these comments on Greece's Star TV on June 4, when asked whether his country is “ready for a military conflict” with Turkey.
“Turkey’s behavior lately is quite aggressive. I believe that the only way for Greece to deal with this behavior, which has a general tendency to be aggressive, is on the one hand to exhaust all its diplomatic weapons and on the other hand to ensure an increase in the deterrent power of the [Greek] military,” Panagiotopoulos said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on June 3 sent letters to top EU officials protesting Turkey’s activities in the eastern Mediterranean and the publication in the Turkish government’s gazette of a map outlining areas of the Greek continental shelf where Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has applied for exploration permits.Tensions between Turkey, Greece flaring up over rights in Aegean, Mediterranean Seas
The letters were sent to the European Council President Charles Michel and the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said in a press briefing on June 4.
“It becomes quite clear that a possible escalation on the part of Turkey will not lead to Greek-Turkish crisis but to a crisis in the overall relations between the European Union and Turkey,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdoğan and Fayez al-Serraj, the leader of Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya, met in Ankara on June 4.
In a news conference, Erdoğan said Turkey and Libya plan to advance cooperation in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, including exploration and drilling activities.
Turkey started backing Serraj’s GNA in November after signing a military cooperation pact alongside a maritime demarcation deal, which gives Ankara oil exploration rights in the Mediterranean that Greece rejects.
Turkish Energy Minister Dönmez announced last week that Turkey will begin oil exploration off Libya’s coast in the eastern Mediterranean within three or four months under the maritime demarcation deal.
“Within the framework of the agreement we reached with Libya, we will be able to start our oil exploration operations there within three to four months,” Dönmez said on May 29. Turkey’s new Kanuni drill ship would also go to the Mediterranean later this year, he added.