Greece to enter East Med talks or face consequences, says Erdoğan

Greece will either enter talks with Turkey over the disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean, or face consequences, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday.

Athens will “come to understand that Turkey has political, economic, military might needed to cast off immoral maps and documents imposed by others,” state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying at the opening ceremony of an Istanbul hospital.

The Turkish president said Greece was “either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or have painful experiences in the field.”

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive amid a new bout of tensions between Ankara and Athens over hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey disputes Greece’s claim to exclusive rights in the waters where Turkey's Oruç Reis vessel, along with a naval escort, is surveying for natural gas. Greece says the vessel is over its own continental shelf, where it has exclusive rights on potential undersea gas and oil, and has deployed its own warships to shadow the Turkish vessels.

Turkey is “ready for every eventuality,” Erdoğan said.

On Thursday, NATO said both Turkey and Greece had agreed to hold "technical talks"on ways to de-escalate military tensions in the region over disputed gas exploration activities. A Greek official denied such an accord, according to the Associated Press. 

"The problem is that those before us are disregarding our rights,’’ Erdoğan said, "and attempting to situate themselves before us.’’ 

Athens maintains Turkey must first withdraw its ships from drilling areas and that talk of an agreement to conduct negotiations does not correspond with reality.

On Friday, a top EU diplomat said the bloc was preparing sanctions against Turkey in response to the dispute with Greece that could be discussed at the EU’s next summit on Sept. 24.