Erdogan warns of ‘dire’ consequences if Oruc Reis is attacked

Turkey’s navy is escorting the Oruc Reis drilling rig in the Eastern Mediterranean as the country’s president on Thursday warned of the ‘dire’ consequences of any attack on the vessel.

The Oruc Reis will be engaged in energy exploration along Turkey’s continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“We said before that if you attack our Oruc Reis you will pay a high price, and today they got their first response,” said Erdogan, speaking at an event marking the 19th anniversary of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. He did not elaborate further.

Earlier this week, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the region after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

The agreement came only a day after Ankara said it would postpone its oil and gas exploration as a goodwill gesture.

But, after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal “null and void,” Turkey authorised the Oruc Reis research ship to continue its activities in an area within the country’s continental shelf.

The ship will continue the two-week mission until August 23 along with the ships Cengiz Han and Ataman.

Erdogan said the only solution to the dispute was through dialogue and negotiation, and urged Athens to “respect Turkey’s rights”.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores claiming that this violates the interests of Turkey.

(Source: Reuters London)

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