President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Aug. 7 announced that Turkey has resumed its search for energy in the eastern Mediterranean, as Egypt and Greece have signed a maritime border agreement for the region.
The deal between Greece and Egypt is insignificant, and Turkey will pursue its rights in the eastern Mediterranean conforming to the agreement signed with Libya, he told reporters after Friday prayers at Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia Mosque.
“We have resumed the drilling activity. We have sent [vessel] Barbaros Hayrettin to the area,” he stated. “We do not even need to meet those who have no right or law, especially in maritime jurisdiction,” Erdoğan stated.
Erdoğan said last month Turkey had agreed to suspend “for a while” its search for oil and gas off a Greek island, waiting for the outcome of negotiations with Greece and EU heavyweight Germany.
The president evoked that it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who asked him to suspend drilling activities in the region in an attempt to mediate between Ankara and Athens to resolve differences in the maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean. He further said, he didn’t have much confidence over Greece but paused the drilling activities for three to four weeks over Merkel’s demand, and now Greece has failed to fulfill its promises.
A maritime border agreement for the eastern Mediterranean signed by Egypt and Greece is “null and void,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on late Aug. 6.
The revelation of the text and map of the maritime deal on exclusive economic zones (EEZ) is due still, but “it’s obvious by the given coordinates that the deal not only violates the rights and continental shelf of Turkey but also of Libya,” Çavuşoğlu told Anadolu Agency.
“Hence, an agreement that violates our continental shelf, which we have reported to the UN, is null and void and the reason for such conclusion is the countries like Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, which are trying to sign agreements with Egypt and Israel while sidelining Turkey,” he stated.
Turkey will “continue to show them and the world that this agreement is null and void on the table and in the field,” the minister added.
In a separate statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry asserted that Greece and Egypt had no mutual sea border and that the deal was “null and void” for Ankara. “It is without a doubt that Turkey will not allow any activity in the area in question and will unwaveringly continue to defend its legitimate rights and interests as well as those of the Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” said the statement. “Egypt, which surrendered an area of 11,500 kilometers square with the so-called agreement it signed with the Greek Cypriot administration in 2003, once again suffers losses at the expense of the Egyptian people with this move,” said the ministry.
Egypt announced on Aug. 6 that it signed a bilateral agreement with Greece on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions between the two countries in the eastern Mediterranean. The deal took shape as Ankara announced it will launch new energy exploration licenses in the eastern Mediterranean, a move distinctly criticized by Greece and the European Union.
However, Ankara suspended its decision to start drillings in the area as a gesture of goodwill concerning the ongoing negotiations with Greece.
Libya condemns the deal
The internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya late Thursday condemned a maritime demarcation deal between Greece and Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Libya will not allow violations of its maritime rights,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al-Qablawi said on Twitter.
Al-Qablawi reiterated Libya’s commitment as a memorandum of understanding concerning the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction signed with Turkey in late 2019.
Forming new party is former presidential candidate İnce’s ‘right’
Erdoğan said Muharrem İnce, a former presidential candidate from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has all the right to launch a new party, as rumors swirl that the politician could be quitting his party.
Erdoğan said that forming a new political party was İnce’s right. İnce is a prominent member of the CHP. He entered the June 2018 presidential election as the CHP’s candidate, running against Erdoğan.
“We are not strangers to these things. Some have separated from us too. They went and established new parties,” Erdoğan said, referring to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who resigned from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and established two new and separate political parties.
“As for Mr. Muharrem, [forming a party] is his most natural right,” Erdoğan said.
In the meantime, Erdoğan also commented on Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli’s call for opposition İYİ (Good) Party chief Meral Akşener to return to the MHP.
“This is the most reasonable invitation,” the president said.
“It can be a step towards unity,” he added.
Bahçeli called on Akşener on Aug. 4 in an attempt to make her quit the opposition party and join hands with the People’s Alliance. A proposal to return to her “home party,” the MHP, was also made.
Akşener accused Bahçeli of attacking her party and sensationalizing the issue.
“Bahçeli is attacking my party, especially me. We are tired of it,” she told reporters on Aug. 5.