"Turkey has no designs on any other country's lands, sovereignty, or interests, but it will never make concessions on what rightfully belongs to it," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

President Erdogan warned Greece not to test Turkey's patience or courage as tensions escalate over offshore energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. August 26, 2020.
President Erdogan warned Greece not to test Turkey's patience or courage as tensions escalate over offshore energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. August 26, 2020. (Turkish Presidency via AP / AP)

Turkey will make "no concessions" in the eastern Mediterranean, warning Greece to avoid taking steps that could lead to its "ruin."

Turkey will take whatever is rightfully its own in the Mediterranean, as well as the Aegean and the Black Sea, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. 

Speaking at an event commemorating the 11th-century military victory by Seljuk Turks over the Byzantine empire at Malazgirt, Erdogan also called on Ankara's counterparts to avoid mistakes that he said would bring their destruction.

His remarks came as Greece announced plans to extend its territorial waters along its western coastline with Italy and said it would launch military exercises on Wednesday with France, Italy and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Tensions between Turkey and Greece escalated after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel to disputed eastern Mediterranean waters this month, a move Athens called illegal.

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves.

"Just as we have no eyes over anyone’s territory, sovereignty, and interests, we will never compromise on what belongs to us. We are determined to do whatever is necessary in political, economic, and military terms," Erdogan said.

"We invite our interlocutors to get their act together and to avoid mistakes that will lead to their ruin,” he said.

The comments follow Turkey's major natural gas discovery in the Black Sea.

Erdogan announced on Friday that Turkey has found some 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves after its drill ship Fatih started work on July 20 off the Black Sea coast.

NATO head seeks dialogue 

Also on Wednesday, the NATO chief called for dialogue to ease tensions in the region.

"Turkey and Greece have both been important NATO allies for many years. We need to find a way to resolve the situation in the eastern Mediterranean based on the spirit of allied solidarity," Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the EU defence ministers' informal meeting in Berlin.

The meeting will discuss the latest situation in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Mali, and Belarus.

READ MORE: Turkey finds natural gas reserve of 320 billion cubic metres off Black Sea

READ MORE:Why Turkey's gas find is a game changer

Extending Greek territorial waters

In Athens, meanwhile, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece is planning to exercise its legal right to extend its territorial waters along its western coastline with Italy from six to 12 nautical miles.

The planned extension along Greece’s Italy-facing coastline would not directly affect the territory at the centre of the Greek-Turkish dispute. 

But the prime minister told parliament that Greece was abandoning decades of "passive" foreign policy.

The Turkish vessel Oruc Reis has for weeks been carrying out seismic research escorted by Turkish warships. 

Greece, which claims the ship is operating over the country’s own continental shelf in an area where it has exclusive rights on potential undersea gas and oil deposits, sent warships to shadow the Turkish flotilla.

France joins military exercises

Meanwhile, France is joining military exercises with Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Wednesday.

"The eastern Mediterranean is turning into an area of tension. Respect for international law must be the rule and not the exception," Parly said on Twitter, adding that it "should not be a playground for the ambitions of some."

Three Rafale fighter jets and a warship equipped with a helicopter will be part of the joint military exercises, she said.

Relations between France and Turkey have soured in recent months over Ankara's actions in Libya and the Mediterranean.

Sharing energy with TRNC

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

Ankara has also said energy resources near Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which has issued Turkish state oil company Turkish Petroleum a licence, and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.

READ MORE: Turkey: Ready for east Med talks with Greece without preconditions

Source: TRTWorld and agencies