Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey Photograph:( Reuters )
The two neighbours, allies in NATO, are at odds over a number of issues from commercial rights in the Aegean to territorial waters and the ethnically-split island of Cyprus
Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has warned Greece not to test the country's patience with provocations.
The two neighbours, allies in NATO, are at odds over a number of issues from commercial rights in the Aegean to territorial waters and the ethnically-split island of Cyprus.
“They (Greece) should not miscalculate and think it’s the right time (to extend the territorial waters to) 12 miles,” Akar said.
“They should not test us in any way, and should not embark on such an adventure. I hope they don’t make such a mistake.”
“Let the two sides benefit from the riches, let both the Turkish people and the Greek people live happily and prosperously,” he added.
According to Akbar, “Our vision from the very beginning is this: We are for peace, for the solution of problems through negotiations. Let’s not increase the tension, let’s stay away from any provocative behavior... That’s why we tell our interlocutors over and over that it is very important to act with caution.”
Greece and Turkey almost clashed last year when each sent out warships to sea regions they considered their own. Although those scenes have not been repeated, the two countries regularly snipe over Cyprus, against which Turkey has mounted a consistent challenge to stop the east Mediterranean island exploring offshore for oil and gas.
Cyprus's internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government have issued licences for offshore oil and gas exploration, a move that Turkey says disregards the rights of the island's Turkish Cypriot community.
Offshore exclusive economic zones are maritime areas agreed between neighbouring states, defining where a country has commercial rights such as the right to explore for hydrocarbons. Those zones can extend to up to 200 nautical miles from a shoreline, or, if sharing the sea area with another state, the equidistance between the two.
But in the case of Greece and Turkey, the issue is complicated by disputes over the extent of their continental shelves and the limit of their territorial waters. The dispute has held up any declaration by Greece to extend its territorial waters to 12 miles from 6 in the Aegean.
(With inputs from agencies)