Defense chief: Turkey chases its rights, not tension in Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey is going after its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, not seeking tension, the country’s defense minister said on Thursday, Anadolu reports.

“We are not seeking tension or bullying. We clearly and explicitly chase our rights and interests with belief, knowledge, logic, science, and law. Nobody can prevent this,” Hulusi Akar said.

His remarks came during a visit for inspections at the air operations center in the central Eskisehir province.

On the recent US decision to partially lift arms embargo on Greek Cyprus administration, Akar said it will cause “conflict and deadlock,” not to bring “peace and solution.”

On Tuesday, the US announced that it is partially lifting the embargo on Southern Cyprus.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Nicos Anastasiades, the leader of the Greek Cypriot administration, about the partial lifting of the US arms embargo and discussed their “deepening” security relationship.

The US announcement came amid markedly strained tensions in the region between Turkey and several nations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

READ: ‘We will not let anybody harm Turkey’s interests’

After Athens objected to Ankara’s seismic survey in the area in July, German diplomatic efforts helped defuse tensions between Turkey and Greece.

But Greece’s controversial move to sign a maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt, which Turkey says violates its continental shelf and maritime rights, has sparked further tensions between the two neighbors with Ankara accusing Athens of pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has attempted to illegally restrict Turkey’s maritime territory, trying to box it into its shores based on small Greek islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey has argued the sides should instead sit down for dialogue to reach a win-win solution based on fair sharing.

Greece has also recently carried out military drills — including with France — meant to intimidate Turkey into stopping energy exploration, as well as illegally armed Aegean islands, in violation of longstanding peace treaties.

Athens’ recent maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt also violates Turkey’s continental shelf and maritime rights, sparking further tensions between the two neighbors.