Mediterranean war threat: Erdogan sends ship BACK to disputed region in defiance of Greece

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NATO members Turkey and Greece are at loggerheads over the extent of their continental shelves – as well as competing claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region. The row initially erupted in August when Turkey sent Oruc Reis – along with a flotilla of Turkish naval vessels – into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus, close to the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

Along with two other ships, the Ataman and Cengiz Han, Oruc Reis will continue work in an area south of the Greek island of Rhodes until November 4, a Turkish naval maritime notice said late last night.

A previous notice scheduled survey work in the area until October 27 – but this has now been extended.

Ankara withdrew Oruc Reis last month to allow for diplomacy prior to a European Union summit, during which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey.

The vessel was sent back this month, prompting an angry response from Greece, France and Germany.

After the summit, the bloc said it would punish Turkey if it continued its operations in the region, in a move Ankara said further strained Turkey-EU ties.

Turkey insists its operations are within its continental shelf.

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Last week online observer the Greek Analyst suggested the EU’s failure to impose sanctions on Turkey over what he called its “encroachment” meant there was a risk Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would “take things to the extreme” with the US distracted in the final stages of the Presidential campaign.

The observer added: “The unwillingness of the EU to act decisively against Turkey’s encroachment is a recipe for disaster, leading gradually (but surely) to a military incident in the East Med or Aegean.

“With the US in election flux and EU AWOL, Erdogan will not hesitate to take things to the extreme.”

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Speaking in the European Parliament on Wednesday, French MP Francois-Xavier Bellamy said: “We have this occupied enclave of Cyprus on European soil.

“Turkish boats have once again entered Greece’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“Greece must be doubting the de-escalation that we announced.”

“Erdogan again takes three steps forward and he is walking on European territory.

“Europe says it finds it regrettable and calls for peace.

“But we are not talking about sanctions, which is the only effective word that we should be uttering.”

A statement issued last week by Hami Aksoy, Spokesperson Of the Turkish Government’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, said: “It is not surprising that the EU, ignoring once more Turkey’s theses with its usual judgmental and prejudiced posture, identifies Turkey’s determination to defend both its rights and those of the Turkish Cypriots as “provocation” in today’s meeting.

“The EU’s continuation of the discourse of sanctions, instead of encouraging dialogue, reconciliation and an unconditional positive agenda, reveals also that the extent of its aim and the language it uses are distant from sincerity and constructiveness.

“The EU should focus on solving problems by respecting the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots in the region with an agenda of common interest and common future.

“Hence, it should cease to surrender unconditionally to the irrational and spoiled demands of Greece and the Greek Cypriot side.”

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