Duvar English - Reuters
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 13 that any attack on a Turkish ship exploring for oil and gas in disputed Mediterranean waters would incur a "high price" and suggested Turkey had already acted on that warning.Erdoğan says only solution in east Med is dialogue, as France increases military presence in region
Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have risen sharply this week after Turkey sent a survey vessel to the region, escorted by warships, in a move Greece decried as illegal.
"We said that if you attack our Oruç Reis you will pay a high price, and they got their first answer today," Erdoğan said in a speech in Ankara without giving details.
The Oruc Reis set out earlier this week with its military escort to survey waters between Crete and Cyprus.
In response, President Emmanuel Macron said France would increase its military presence in the region and called on Ankara to stop its exploration work. French and Greek forces held military training exercises off Crete on Thursday.Turkey seeks to resolve energy exploration dispute with Greece through dialogue
European Union foreign ministers, who have already imposed sanctions on two Turkish energy executives over Turkey's operations in the eastern Mediterranean, will discuss the situation on Friday.
Greece's foreign ministry said Minister Nikos Dendias will brief EU counterparts "about the real facts of the recent days regarding operations in the region" at the emergency meeting.
Erdoğan spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Council President Charles Michel on Thursday. He "reiterated his commitment to defend Turkey's rights against attempts to disregard them", Erdogan's office said of the call with Michel.
Both Turkey and Greece said this week that they were willing to resolve the dispute over their overlapping maritime claims, but vowed to protect their interests and blamed the other side for the stand-off.France to bolster Mediterranean military presence over Turkish prospecting
"If we act with common sense and reason, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone's interests," Erdoğan said earlier on Aug. 13. "We are not chasing any unnecessary adventures or seeking tensions."
In apparent reference to France, Erdoğan also said Greece was being pushed into taking "wrong steps" in the region by "a country that doesn't even have a coast in the eastern Mediterranean."
Meanwhile, various Greek media outlets claimed that the Greek frigate Limnos rammed and damaged the Turkish Kemal Reis war ship in a disputed area in the Mediterranean on Aug. 12.
Greek media reported that the clash rendered the Turkish vessel “inoperable.” On the following day, Greek General Staff said that no collision between frigates took place. Limnos was one of the four Greek frigates that took part in a joint exercise with French vessels on Aug. 13.
Turkey on Aug. 13 made an announcement that their research mission was still on going with the same ships and released a video showing Kemal Reis together with Oruç Reis.