Turkey will not tolerate illegal actions in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, said the nation’s president on Monday.
'Turkey won't allow piracy or banditry in the Mediterranean or Aegean regions,' Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in the Black Sea province of Giresun at an event marking the start of the fishing season.
He added: 'As the Turkish nation, we do not violate others' rights, nor will we let them do so [...] We are determined to fully defend the maritime rights of our nation and the Turkish Cypriots.'
Erdogan said Turkey would not be confined to its shores, as it is the country with the longest coastline in the region.
He said the discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea region -- the largest discovery in Turkish history -- 'revealed the true potential' of Turkey, which is surrounded by rich energy resources, adding that this discovery heralded a much larger find.
'Our Oruc Reis [drill ship] determinedly maintains its seismic research activities; God willing, we hope to have good news in the Mediterranean as soon as possible, as we did in the Black Sea,' he said.
He spoke against the backdrop of recent disputes with Greece over maritime boundaries, especially concerning energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greece has attempted to illegally restrict Turkey’s maritime territory, trying to box it in to its shores based on small Greek islands near the Turkish coast.
Turkey has argued the sides should sit down for dialogue to reach a win-win solution based on fair sharing.
Greece has recently carried out military drills meant to intimidate Turkey into stopping energy exploration, as well as illegally armed Aegean islands, in violation of longstanding peace treaties.
By Ali Murat Alhas