Turkey says East Med drilling in line with NATO

Turkey on Tuesday said its activities in the eastern Mediterranean are in line with NATO regulations while reiterating Greece’s unwillingness for dialogue to ease tension over hydrocarbon resources in the region.

"Our drills [in the Eastern Mediterranean] are conducted within the framework of NATO rules," state-run Anadolu news agency cited Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as saying at a joint press conference with his Congolese counterpart Jean-Claude Gakosso.

"Greece made it clear that it is not in favour of dialogue by saying 'no' to the recent [reconciliation] initiatives," Çavuşoğlu added, referring to reconciliation initiatives by the EU and NATO.

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 hydrocarbon resources. 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.

"If Greece is sure of itself, then it should sit at the (negotiation) table,’’ Çavuşoğlu said. "It should declare before everyone that it is rightful. We have things to say, too.’’ 

Athens has refused to join in on talks unless Ankara withdraws its naval ships from the contested waters.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s meeting between Turkish and Greek military delegations at NATO headquarters has been delayed until Sept. 10, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday, citing the Defence Ministry sources.