Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar says country’s recent Navtex alert is part of efforts to ensure the safety for a navy drill off the coast of Iskenderun, eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is seen being escorted by a Turkish Navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus. August 17, 2020.
Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz is seen being escorted by a Turkish Navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean off Cyprus. August 17, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkey has said it will hold firing exercises in the eastern Mediterranean on Sept 1-2, the latest in a series of military drills which have fuelled tensions with Greece.

The Turkish navy issued the latest advisory, known as a Navtex, on Thursday saying it will hold the firing exercises in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Iskenderun, northeast of Cyprus.

Turkey and Greece have been locked in a bitter dispute over control of eastern Mediterranean waters which escalated after Ankara sent a seismic survey vessel to the region.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greek efforts to declare a huge exclusive economic zone, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

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

READ MORE: Turkey issues new NAVTEX for work in eastern Mediterranean

Turkey issues Navtex on eastern Mediterranean

Turkey's recent Navtex alert is about ensuring the safety for a navy drill off the coast of Iskenderun, Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. 

As the dispute widened, France said on Wednesday it was joining military exercises with Italy, Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.

During an interview with state-run Anadolu Agency, Akar slammed France, saying Turkey would not be deterred by the show of force.

“To believe that it would be possible to thwart the Turkish Armed Forces operations with exercises and similar activities is nothing more than a pipe dream,” Akar said. 

Akar also reiterated that Turkey favoured dialogue with Greece but was determined to safeguard its rights.

“If our Greek counterparts agree, we would be pleased to host them here,” Akar said.

“We would not allow our rights to be trampled on,” he also said. “Turkey's strength should not be tested.”

Everyone should know that the Turkish Republic has truly become a player on the international stage, said Akar. 

READ MORE: Turkish naval strength in Eastern Mediterranean shifts balance of power

Source: TRTWorld and agencies