On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that his country will not hesitate to respond to any harassment of its energy exploration ship in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The statement comes in light of rising tensions between Turkey and Greece in the Mediterranean Sea. Such tensions are a result of Turkey’s decision to send a research vessel, called Oruc Reis, to undertake a seismic survey close to the Greek island of Megitsi.
Speaking at an opening ceremony in the eastern Black Sea province of Rize, the Turkish president said the Oruc Reis survey ship will continue energy exploration until August 23rd.
Erdogan’s remarks come after unconfirmed reports in Greek media that a vessel from Greece hit a Turkish ship escorting the Oruc Reis. The Greek Defence Ministry denied attacking the Turkish ship, with a ministry spokesperson saying “no incident happened.”
On the other hand, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Turkey to show “sense” in the naval showdown ongoing in the Eastern Mediterranean over energy exploration, as he warned it could lead to a military accident.
“The risk of an accident lurks when so many military assets are gathered in such a contained area,” he warned.
The Greek PM said Athens would not seek to escalate the situation, but added: “No provocation will go unanswered.”
Greece and Turkey have been at loggerheads over energy resources since the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece and the European Union claim Turkey is illegally drilling in the region, but Turkey claims the area is within its exclusive economic zone.