Ankara announced that two Turkish military ships Wednesday conducted military exercises with an US destroyer in the Eastern Mediterranean, amid increasing tension between Turkey and Greece in this region.
“The Turkish frigate TCG Barbaros and the warship TCG Burgazada conducted military training exercises with the US destroyer USS Winston S Churchill,” the Turkish Ministry of Defense wrote in a tweet attached to pictures of warships.
The ministry did not provide any further details about the exercises.
Thee military maneuvers are taking place in light of the escalation of tension between Ankara and Athens in the eastern Mediterranean, where the discovery of large gas fields in recent years exacerbated long-standing disputes between the two neighboring countries over their maritime borders.
On the other hand, France and Italy deployed military forces in the eastern Mediterranean on Wednesday to organize joint exercises with Greece and Cyprus.
Despite calls from Europe, the United States and NATO to reduce tension, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a stern warning to Greece on Wednesday in his war speech.
Erdogan said that his country would not make “any concessions” in defense of its gas-related interests in the eastern Mediterranean, warning Greece against committing any “mistake” that could lead to its “ruin”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that everyone will see that Turkey is not a country whose patience can be tested, adding: “If we say we will, we will, and we are ready to pay the price”.
This came in a speech he gave today, Wednesday, on the occasion of the 949th anniversary of the Battle of “Malakkid” between the Seljuk state and the Byzantine Empire.
Erdogan reiterated his country’s adherence to its rights in the Aegean Sea, Black Bahrain and the Mediterranean, stressing Ankara’s willingness to do whatever it takes politically, militarily and economically to obtain its rights.
The Turkish president said: “Turkey will take its rights in the Aegean, Black and Mediterranean seas, and we will not hesitate to do what is necessary to obtain our rights and we will not give them up”.
He added, “Everyone will see that Turkey is not a country whose patience can be tested, and if we say we will, we will, and we are ready to do whatever is necessary politically, militarily and economically in order to obtain our rights”.
Hours after his statements, the Greek Defense Ministry announced the launch of joint operations with Cyprus, France and Italy on the coasts of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Defense, which it published on its website on Wednesday, the operations will continue until Friday.
The “Bloomberg” news agency quoted the ministry as saying that the four countries, members of the European Union, have agreed to “enhance the maritime and air presence in the eastern Mediterranean, through their quadripartite initiative to cooperate in order to enhance security and stability in the region in general and to ensure freedom of navigation”.
This comes in light of the escalation of tensions amid Turkey’s insistence on exploring areas that Greece and Cyprus say are its subsidiaries in the eastern Mediterranean.