Turkish president lashes out at Greek, French leaders amid maritime row
Iran Press TV
Monday, 31 August 2020 10:16 AM
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lashed at the leaders of France and Greece as tensions escalate between the NATO allies over oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters of the Mediterranean.
Speaking at a Sunday ceremony commemorating Victory Day, Erdogan called the leaders of the two European Union countries "greedy and incompetent" for challenging Ankara's energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
The occasion marks the defeat of the Greek army by the Turks in the Battle of Dumlupinar in 1922.
"Do Greeks accept what could happen to them because of their greedy and incompetent leaders?" asked Erdogan. "Do the French know the price they will pay because of their greedy and incompetent leaders?"
Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the waters.
The European Union has sided with Greece in the dispute, with France taking a more assertive stance against Turkey.
Tensions started to escalate between the NATO allies on August 10 when a Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis entered the contested waters.
Both sides then began to stage naval exercises there.
French frigates and fighter jets joined the Greek navy vessels as they shadowed Turkish vessels in the disputed waters.
Ships from Cyprus, Italy and the US have also taken part in the Greek exercises, while the US and Italy have held drills with Turkish units as well.
Erdogan challenged Greece and France in particular and said when the time comes to fight, "we will not hesitate to make sacrifices."
"The question is: when they stand against us in the Mediterranean, are they ready to make the same sacrifices?" he asked, adding, "To our enemies, we say: Bring it on!"
On Friday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay also warned Greece not to expand its coastal zone into the Ionian Sea by six nautical miles under international maritime law.
He said such a move would be a "casus belli" that could lead to an armed conflict between the two NATO allies.
Athens immediately replied to Oktay's strong comments and said threatening to use violence was against "modern political civilization."
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