Turkey calls for diplomacy from Greece and warns of 'painful experiences'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Turkey has warned Greece to talk or face the consequences as the two clash over disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean where there is the potential for future gas and oil discoveries.

“They’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or in the field with painful experiences,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

Tension between the Nato allies has risen as the neighbours, with many long-simmering disputes, both deploy naval and air forces to assert their competing claims.

“They are going to understand that Turkey has the political, economic and military power to tear up the immoral maps and documents imposed,” Mr Erdogan said.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of a hospital in Istanbul, he said Turkey was “ready for every eventuality and result”.

The Cumhuriyet newspaper reported that 40 tanks were being transported to north-west Turkey and carried photographs of armoured vehicles loaded on lorries.

Tension between Greece, an EU member, and Turkey escalated close to breaking point in recent weeks over access to Economic Exclusive Zones around Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean.

Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara
Map shows competing maritime borders according to agreements made by Athens and Cairo, Tripoli and Ankara

Greece and the EU have said Turkey’s exploration operations in the area are illegal. Turkey has said it should have access to waters on the islands because they lie on its continental shelf.

The clashes are also happening in waters near Cyprus, another EU member.

Nato arranged for Greek and Turkish military officers to begin talks to try to reduce the risk of armed conflict or accidents.

Greek warships take part in military exercises in Eastern Mediterranean sea, as tensions rise with Turkey over the waters. Greek Defense Ministry/AP

The Greek air force joined the exercises. Greek Defense Ministry/AP

The Tonnerre is escorted by Greek and French military vessels. Greek National Defence/AP)

The French Tonnerre helicopter carrier, rear left, is escorted by Greek and French military vessels during a maritime exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Greek and Turkish warships are also closely shadowing each other. (Greek National Defence/AP)

The Turkish seismic research vessel 'Oruc Reis' heading west of Antalya in the Mediterranean Sea. Turkish Defence Ministry/AFP

Tension are high between Greece and Turkey, over the 'Oruc-Reis' and its mission in the eastern Mediterranean. IHA via AP

Turkey’s claims to the waters, which it says are on its continental shelf, have repeatedly been dismissed as illegal by Greece and its allies. Turkish Defence Ministry/AFP

Turkish ships accompany the 'Oruc Reis,' a seismic research vessel. Turkish Defence Ministry/AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for dialogue while still pushing ahead with a Mediterranean gas development plan that has outraged Greece. AFP

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned of the potential for a mishap with Greek and Turkish navies both in the area.. EPA

France will strengthen its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Reuters

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Simulated dogfights between Greek and Turkish fighter pilots have occurred over the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, and two ships collided in August.

France, Italy and the UAE have all sent forces to join war games with either Greece or Cyprus in recent weeks. Egypt has signed an energy exploration deal with Athens for the Mediterranean.

The EU has also threatened possible sanctions against Turkey over what it says are illegal actions.

Updated: September 5, 2020 09:50 PM

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