Turkey says Black Sea turned into Russian lake
Iran Press TV
Wed May 11, 2016 8:28PM
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called on NATO to bolster its presence in the Black Sea which he claims has turned into a "Russian lake."
"We should perform our duty as we are the countries with access to the Black Sea," said Erdogan during a Balkan nations' general staff meeting held in Istanbul on Wednesday.
He noted that he had in the past brought up the subject with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
"I told him 'You are absent from the Black Sea. The Black Sea has almost become a Russian lake,'" he said. "If we don't take action, history will not forgive us."
Tensions between Moscow and Ankara sharply escalated when Turkey on November 24, 2015 downed an Su-24 fighter jet over Syria, claiming that it had entered Turkish airspace, an accusation strongly rejected by Moscow.
Russia suspended all military deals with Turkey and imposed a number of economic sanctions on the country following the incident.
A NATO summit is set to be held in the Polish capital in July. The meeting is said to be aimed at reinforcing the alliance's current stance on Russia.
"We should enhance our coordination and cooperation in the Black Sea. We hope for concrete results from the NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8 and 9… The Black Sea should be turned into the sea of stability," Erdogan added.
During his inauguration speech last week, NATO's new Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Curtis Scaparrotti (seen below), said the Western military alliance will continue its defensive and military build-up close to Russia's borders.
Russia does not look favorably upon NATO's growing deployment of missiles and nuclear weapons near its borders, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying in June last year that if threatened by NATO, Moscow will respond to the threat accordingly.
Russia and NATO have been locked in a deepening dispute. NATO has stepped up its military build-up near Russia's borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula re-integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
US missile system breaches nuclear treaty
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the US and NATO's activation of a missile shield in Romania is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987.
"This decision is harmful and mistaken, because it is capable of upsetting strategic stability," said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for proliferation and arms control, Mikhail Ulyanov.
On Thursday, an opening ceremony for the Aegis missile defense system is to be held at a NATO airbase in Deveselu, southern Romania.
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