On Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made an emergency visit to both Athens and Ankara to meet with his counterparts to try to soothe tensions in a dispute over who owns potentially-oil and gas-rich areas of the eastern Mediterranean. The same day, naval forces from both Greece and Turkey held drills off Crete.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emphasized that Ankara would make “no concessions” to Greece in the Mediterranean, warning Greece against any provocations, and emphasizing that his country would take ‘what it deserves’ in the Mediterranean, as well as the Aegean and Black seas.
“We will not compromise what is ours…We are determined to do whatever is necessary,” Erdogan said, speaking at a ceremony Wednesday commemorating the anniversary of the Seljuk Turkish victory over the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert in the year 1071.
“We invite our counterparts…to beware that any error could pave the way to their ruin,” Erdogan added.
Erdogan’s comments come in the wake of Greece’s announcement Wednesday that the Greek, French, Italian and Cypriot navies would carry out three days of joint military exercises south of Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.
“Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have agreed to deploy a joint presence in the eastern Mediterranean as part of a quadripartite cooperation intiative,” the Greek Defence Ministry said in a statement. “The tensions and instability in the eastern Mediterranean have heightened disputes on issues concerning maritime space,” the ministry added.
Greece accused Turkey of repeatedly violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, making it necessary for quartet cooperation to “enhance security and stability in the wider region and ensure freedom of navigation.”
The drills, dubbed the ‘Eunomia’ exercises, in reference to the minor Greek goddess of law and order, will run Wednesday through Friday off the southern course of Cyprus.
The French military confirmed its participation in the drills in a statement Wednesday, saying three Rafale jets and a frigate will take part.