Turkey to defend its sea interests, says PM

A Turkish seismic ship arrives in one gas zones off Cyprus as Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan vows to defend Turkey’s
maritime interest

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan (L), President Gül (R) and Chief of General Staff Özel (back R) inspect a new Turkish warship.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan (L), President Gül (R) and Chief of General Staff Özel (back R) inspect a new Turkish warship.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey would take all necessary measures to defend its rights over natural resources in the sea during a ceremony to launch Turkey’s first domestic warship. The Turkish research ship Piri Reis meanwhile entered block 13 off Cyprus where Greek Cypriots are continuing natural gas exploration with U.S. company Noble, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources confirmed.

Amid rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey’s first domestically made warship was formally delivered to the Turkish Navy.

“Turkey’s interests in the seas reach from surrounding waters out to Suez Canal and Indian Ocean,” Erdoğan said adding that Turkey would take all the necessary measures to defend its commercial interests and its rights over the natural resources in the sea. “We have sent the Piri Reis [a Turkish exploration vessel] to the eastern Mediterranean for research activities. We will continue to bring into action anything that our national interests requires without any hesitation,” Erdoğan said, during the ceremony on Tuesday as the TCG Heybeliada, was launched in Istanbul’s Pendik Navy Yard. As Erdoğan continued his harsh rhetoric over the gas drilling operation of Greek Cyprus, the Turkish research ship Piri Reis entered block 13 off Cyprus where Greek Cypriots are continuing natural gas exploration with U.S. company Noble, Turkish Foreign Ministry sources confirmed. Sources added that the Piri Reis was only 60 kilometers away from the Greek Cypriot drilling platform. Erdoğan has already said the Turkish ship will be escorted by the Turkish Navy; the Turkish frigate Yavuz set sail from its Turkish Mediterannean base two days ago to escort and conduct patrolling duties.

Despite Erdogan’s words, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said tensions were decreasing in the eastern Mediterranean. “After Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called Prime Minister Erdoğan [Monday] and they talked on the phone for one hour, the tension decreased and things began returning to normal in the eastern Mediterranean,” Yılmaz told the Hürriyet Daily News. President Abullah Gül said Turkey was now building its own warships with its own engineers, workers and technicians, which in the past it had to buy from other countries and proud of this fact. “Even the countries whose national income is way behind ours have decided to make nuclear weapons because their rivals have done so,” Gül said. Gül also said “Nobody wants war, war is the worst case scenario, but if you want to maintain peace and stability you also have to be ready for war.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
İpek Yezdani
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News