ANKARA (Reuters) — President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the only solution to Turkey’s dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean was through dialogue and negotiation, and Ankara was not seeking any “adventures” in the region.
Tensions have risen since Turkey launched oil and gas exploration work in a disputed area of the Mediterranean on Monday. Athens condemned the move as illegal and sought support from European Union allies.
France, which has called for EU sanctions against Turkey over its exploration work, held training exercises with Greek forces off the island of Crete on Thursday.
Greek and Turkish officials signaled on Wednesday 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.
Erdogan said Greece was demonstrating an “ill-disposed” approach, and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.
“The path to a solution in the eastern Mediterranean is via dialogue and negotiation,” he said. “If we act with common sense and reason, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone’s interests. We are not chasing any unnecessary adventures or seeking tensions.”
Thursday’s Greek-French military exercise off Crete was the first manifestation of President Emmanuel Macron’s commitment to reinforce France’s presence in the eastern Mediterranean.
Without identifying the country, Erdogan 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.”
“Nobody should think too highly of themselves. Let me be very clear: Don’t try to put on a show,” Erdogan said.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Dominic Evans and Alex Richardson
Image: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, Turkey, August 13, 2020. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS