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Iran Press TV

President Erdogan warns Macron not to 'mess' with Turkey over dispute with Greece

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 12 September 2020 4:09 PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron "not to mess" with Turkey, as tensions between the two NATO allies rise regarding the simmering standoff between Turkey and Greece over sea boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

"Don't mess with the Turkish people. Don't mess with Turkey," said the Turkish leader during a televised speech in Istanbul on Saturday.

Turkey and Greece, both of them NATO members, have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has dispatched a seismic research vessel – and warships to escort it – to an area in the sea that is disputed with Greece.

Greece, for its part, has ordered its naval vessels to shadow the Turkish ships. Earlier, one Greek and one Turkish naval vessel were involved in a minor collision.

Paris fully backs Athens in its standoff with Ankara and has even threatened Turkey with sanctions.

Macron has urged Europe to show a united front against the "unacceptable" conduct of Turkey, saying Europe needed "to be clear and firm with the government of President Erdogan."

The French president also managed to persuade leaders of several EU Mediterranean nations – EuroMED7 – during an emergency meeting earlier this week to issue a united warning to Turkey to end its "unilateral and illegal activities" in Mediterranean waters.

The summit, which was hosted by Macron, said in its final statement sanctions against Turkey were possible if Ankara failed to end its "confrontational actions."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has rejected the joint statement as "biased, disconnected from reality and (lacking) a legal basis."

The French president has already infuriated Ankara by saying that Turkey's "great" people "deserved something else" other than the presidency of Erdogan.

Turkey says it has the largest coastline among all other eastern Mediterranean nations but at the same time has a disproportionately small share of the sea because of Greece's far-flung islands – a number of them even within sight of Turkey's shore.

Greece argues that its claims to the waters are based on international law and also grounded in past agreements inked by neighboring Turkey.

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