Turkey conducts live-fire naval exercises in East Med

The Turkish Navy conducted live-fire naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, the Defence Ministry announced on Sunday.

The ministry did not specify the location of the drills.

Turkey is engaged in a political and military standoff with European Union members Greece and Cyprus over territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey says it has the right to explore for hydrocarbons off its coastline and near Cyprus, claiming the area is part of its continental shelf.

During a summit on Dec. 10, EU leaders agreed to impose sanctions on further individuals involved in Turkey’s gas drilling activities in the disputed waters. The European Council has postponed discussions on harsher steps against Turkey over its “illegal and provocative actions” until March next year.

In its weekly press release, the Defence Ministry said that its naval forces were continuing to escort the seismic exploration vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa in its surveying activities in the disputed area.

“Turkish armed forces will continue to protect Turkey’s and TRNC’s rights and interest in the region,” it said in a statement, referring to the Turkish Cypriot administration.