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Turkey vs Greece: President Erdogan makes threat about most important battle in centuries | World | News

Mr Erdogan issued his warning amid growing fears of a conflict between the two countries which remain locked in a bitter row over oil and gas reserves in the region. Tensions reached boiling point in August when Turkey sent the Oruc Reis research vessel and an escorting fleet of warships to the waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete.

Greece responded by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and the UAE not far from smaller manoeuvres Turkey was conducting between Cyprus and Crete.

Ankara insists it has every right to prospect in the region and has accused Athens of trying to grab an unfair share of maritime resources.

The stand-off has also sparked further rows between Turkey and the European Union with Brussels, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, condemning Ankara’s actions and accusing Mr Erdogan’s government of “unacceptable behaviour”.

The Turkish president insisted his country never “pursued conflict” and laid the blame with Athens.

He told Turkey’s Grand National Assembly: “Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean constitute the most important battle that Turkey has waged in the seas within the last few centuries.

“As Turkey, we are never in pursuit of conflict, tension, injustice, unlawfulness in the Mediterranean. Our only demand is respect for the rights, remedies, and interests of our country.

“We primarily opt for a settlement of disputes regarding the sharing of political and economic potential in the Mediterranean on an equitable basis.

“However, the attitude of Greece and the Greek Cypriot side since 2003 has unfortunately been far from this principle.

READ MORE: Turkey named ’biggest threat to Europe’ and EU territory

“The European Union, on the other hand, has turned into an ineffective, visionless, and shallow structure as a prisoner of the caprice of Greece and the Greek Cypriot side.

“There is not a single problem that has emerged in our region and has been solved with the initiative and influence of the European Union.

“On the contrary, every crisis in which the EU has been involved has grown by gaining new dimensions.”

Mr Erdogan “stated that the EU had succumbed to pressure and blackmail from Greek Cypriots and Greece despite Turkey’s good faith”.

Earlier today, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Athens welcomed moves by Turkey to de-escalate tensions in the Mediterranean but warned Ankara needed to show a firmer commitment to improving relations.

Mr Mitsotakis spoke after Turkey withdrew one of its drill ships operating to the southwest of Cyprus back to the coast in a move the EU said would help ease tensions in the region.

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