Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking a hard line against nations and foreign energy companies exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean, warning them not to "step out of line" and encroach on his country's territorial rights.
“Let them not think that the search for natural gas in Cypriot waters and opportunistic initiatives relating to islets in the Aegean have slipped our attention,” Erdogan said Tuesday as he addressed his ruling AK Party parliamentarians. Both Greece and Turkey claim the islets, known as Imia and Greek and Kardak in Turkish. The two countries nearly went to war in 1996 over ownership of the islets.
Erdogan made his remarks as Turkish warships continued to block an Italian ship from proceeding to search for energy in contested Cypriot waters.
“We warned Italy to not send oil company ENI to Cyprus for offshore drilling," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, adding that Ankara would defend what