Turkey’s resolve in the eastern Mediterranean should not be tested, the leader of Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) said on Sunday.
Referring to the new mission of Turkey’s latest drillship Abdulhamid Han, Omer Celik said took a swipe at Greece, accusing it of provocations.
“Let them not test Turkey’s determination on the issue of its land homeland, it’s blue homeland or aerial homeland,” Celik said in a speech in Adana.
“We will not give anyone a pebble, a drop of water, a breath of air of our country,” he added.
He said Ankara was taking steps with determination and strength to protect the interests of both Turkey and the ‘TRNC’ “because there are oil and natural gas resources in places that these ships found under the sea and underground, which it is the wealth of our nation.”
According to Celik, when Turkey starts its investigations, “Greece immediately starts provocations… and some countries start supporting these provocations”.
“No matter what Greece, the spoiled child of the West, does, no matter what anyone says, the Turkish armed forces, and the Turkish navy will show and continue to show how right we are in protecting our interests by protecting these rigs. That is why no one should test Turkey’s resolve. In the end there will only be disappointment.”
Turkey, he added would never abandon its “unity and indivisible integrity”.
“Turkey cannot quit, Turkey cannot be defeated, Turkey cannot be stopped.”
The new drillship last week set sail, with destination unknown, a week earlier than previously intimated by the Turkish government.
The Abdulhamid Han is a seventh-generation ultra deepwater drillship owned and operated by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation. She is Turkey’s fourth drillship.
As the three other drillships of the state-owned Turkish gas company (Fatih, Yavuz and Kanuni), the Abdulhamid Han is named after sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
The ship departed the Turkish port of Mersin. Heading west, a week ago it was located between the Turkish coast and the north of Cyprus – but much closer to Turkish shores where it was still stationed on Sunday according to marinetraffic.com.
Turkey has billed its latest acquisition as asserting its rights in the eastern Mediterranean, while Cyprus and Greece see the move as one escalating tensions. Relations between Athens and Ankara are strained over a raft of issues ranging from overflights to disputed waters and competing claims over offshore waters believed to contain large quantities of natural gas.
Turkish daily Hurriyet reported last week that the country’s energy minister had stated the drillship would start operating in the eastern Mediterranean on August 9.
It also quoted Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar taking pleasure from the fact Turkey was keeping both Cyprus and Greece guessing about the vessel’s destination.
Turkey has also issued a new Navtex, naval alert, for various military exercises off Cyprus. The Navtex concerns exercises by the Turkish navy using live fire, off the Karpas peninsula between August 15 to September 29.