It is a very important development that Egypt has made a tender on hydrocarbon exploration in the eastern Mediterranean respecting Turkey’s continental shelf limits, the Turkish national defense minister said on Saturday.
“We have many historical and cultural values in common with Egypt. When they are put in use, we consider that there may be different developments in the coming days,” Hulusi Akar said during the Blue Homeland 2021 tactical exercise.
He said Turkey considers works on such agreements and memorandums of understanding with Egypt under the maritime jurisdiction limits that the country declared to the UN.
“In this regard, our Foreign Ministry continues the necessary work in coordination with relevant institutions, organizations, and ministries,” he said, expecting to get positive results from these efforts.
Akar followed the Blue Homeland 2021 activities from the Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis together with high-ranking military officials. He also addressed the personnel in the ships that took part in the exercise via video conference.
"You are not only protecting our rights, concerns, and interests in our seas but also making an important contribution to world peace and stability by waving our flag in all the world's seas,” Akar said.
Highlighting the importance of these exercises, he thanked all who contributed to the planning and performance of the exercise. The observer day activity of the Blue Homeland ended with a parade at sea.
Last August, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal, spurning Turkey's goodwill gesture in halting the exploration.
Egypt last August signed an agreement with Greece, delimiting their borders in the Eastern Mediterranean, but some details of the deal only recently emerged, including Egypt respecting Turkey’s maritime territory.
Declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal "null and void," Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis to continue its activities in an area within Turkey's continental shelf.
- Turkey in favor of dialogue with Greece
Drawing attention to issues between Turkey and Greece, Akar said: “We are in favor of solving problems through dialogue in line with international law, good neighborly relations, and we are open to talks.”
"Despite all these positive approaches, unfortunately, provocative attempts, actions, irresponsible statements, threatening language, and similar approaches by our neighbor disturb the peace and stability in the region,” Akar said.
Reiterating that Greece should refrain from the words and actions that could increase tension, he said the main purpose of Greece is to negatively affect the EU and international public opinion and to mislead them.
Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
Ankara has also said energy resources near Cyprus must be shared fairly between the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.
- Relations with NATO
Akar pointed out that countries carry out various exercises under international law to develop their armed forces, test their systems, and increase the skills of their personnel.
“Our Blue Homeland 2021 tactical exercise is an exercise carried out entirely within the framework of international law, to increase our experience, knowledge, and skills,” he said.
He also said the Turkish land, naval, and air forces along with Gendarmerie General Command and Coast Guard elements participated in the exercise.
“At the same time with the drill, we simultaneously continue our other national, international, and NATO missions with the same determination,” Akar noted.
He added: “In a period of rising risks, threats, and dangers, NATO solidarity has become even more important. In this regard, we have a very constructive, planned, and programmed relationship within NATO.”
Reporting By Sarp Ozer
Writing by Burak Dag and Gozde Bayar