Turkey will never allow another harassment to any Turkish ship in the Eastern Mediterranean, the country’s defense minister said on Wednesday.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ Desk, said: “Our warships in the region are providing the necessary protection. We will never allow a new harassment.”
Akar’s remarks came after Turkey warned Greece against taking actions in the Mediterranean Sea that would “spark tensions” in the region.
Last week, the Turkish navy prevented a Greek frigate from interfering in the activity of the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, a Turkish seismic and drilling vessel working in the eastern Mediterranean.
The activity, which had been announced by Turkish authorities, met with Greek interference, according to military sources.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.
Dispute over Aegean Sea
The defense minister also said that Turkey will take necessary measures if a decision is taken contrary to its rights and interests in the Aegean Sea.
“We are in favor of settling matters through peace and negotiations, without turning it into a close conflict in any way,” he added.
Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Greek Ambassador in Ankara Petros Mavroidis over the issue on Tuesday.
The move came after recent remarks by Nikos Kotzias, who recently resigned as Greek foreign minister.
Kotzias has said that Greece was ready to extend its territorial waters from six miles to 12 miles in the Ionian Sea.
Touching upon the Turkish-Russian efforts for peace in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province Akar said that two countries’ defense ministers will discuss the Idlib issue during a meeting on Saturday.
A large number of heavy weapons and radical elements were cleared from the 15-20 km corridor in Idlib, according to a recently signed agreement between Ankara and Moscow, the defense minister added.
Akar also said that Turkey will never allow a terror corridor to be established in its south.
Following a meeting in Sochi last month between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two countries agreed to establish the Idlib demilitarized zone.
Ankara and Moscow also signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the “stabilization” of Idlib’s de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present, while Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Turkish Defense Minister also said that joint patrols with the U.S. soldiers in northern Syrian city of Manbij will start after completing the training period.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK forces from the city in Aleppo province, northern Syria to stabilize the region.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK has taken 40,000 lives, including many women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.
Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield cleared an area up to 2,000 km from terrorists and neutralized 3,000 Daesh terrorists in the area, Akar added.
Operation Euphrates Shield, which began on Aug. 24, 2016, and ended in March 2017, was aimed at eliminating the terrorist threat along the border in the northern Syrian regions of Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Al-Bab, and Azaz with the use of the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish artillery and air cover.