Erdogan Says Turkey Has Restarted Energy Exploration In Eastern Mediterranean

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Turkey has restarted drilling operations in the eastern Mediterranean that previously inflamed tensions with Greece, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

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In July, Ankara decided to temporarily pause its energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean to pursue dialogue with Athens, after a request from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Speaking after prayers at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said that despite Turkey’s plan to stop drilling for three to four weeks, Greece could not be trusted.

Greece and Egypt on Thursday signed a maritime agreement in Cairo outlining an exclusive economic zone for oil and gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.

Erdogan described that deal as “null and void”, adding that neither Cairo nor Athens had the right to drill in that area.

Last year, Turkey and Libya’s internationally recognised government in Tripoli signed a similar maritime boundaries agreement in the region.

NATO members, Turkey and Greece, have long been at odds over Ankara’s exploratory drills for hydrocarbons in the area.

Athens insists the continental shelf is its exclusive zone because of the presence of its islands, which Turkey contests, saying the islands are 580 kilometres away from the mainland.

Greece had previously warned Turkey against sending its exploration ships to the area.

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