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Turkey’s Erdogan says only solution in Mediterranean is dialogue

epa07181417 National seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis sails on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, 21 November 2018.The vessel was built by Turkish engineers in a domestic shipyard in Istanbul in 2017 and it is the second vessel of Turkey to explore the seas for oil and natural gas as Turkey's first seismic vessel, Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, which was bought from Norway in 2013, is currently exploring the Mediterranean Sea. The 86-meter-long and 22-meter-wide vessel is able to stay in the sea for 35 days when its fuel and water reserves are full. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU
By Reuters
13 Aug 2020 0

ANKARA, Aug 13 (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 signalled 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)

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