Turkey has the capacity and capability of destroying evil alliances formed against it in the Mediterranean Sea, the country's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Ankara's remarks came in response to the Greek Foreign Ministry's statement urging Turkey to end its activities in the Mediterranean.

Citing military sources, some Greek media outlets reported that the Greek army is on high alert and has canceled leave for soldiers.

In order to give a chance to diplomacy and revitalize the channels of dialogue, Turkey had suspended its seismic exploration activities in the Mediterranean.

However, Greece did not reciprocate Ankara's friendly stance and signed a controversial maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt earlier this week.

In a tit-for-tat move, Turkey announced on Monday that its seismic vessel Oruc Reis will resume research in the region until Aug. 23.

Turkey also warned players in the region against acting like the "sole owner of the Mediterranean".

"It is no business of anyone to try to exclude our country from the Mediterranean, which has been under Turkish rule for centuries," the statement concluded.

Ankara has long accused Greece of pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and underlined that its maritime claims violate Turkey’s sovereign rights.

Turkey breaking blockade in Eastern Med. with Oruc Reis

In the face of efforts by Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and Egypt to limit Turkey into its mainland, Ankara has announced it would respond by continuing exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean with its seismic research vessel, the MTA Oruc Reis.

Turkey has accused Greece of trying to block it in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean by signing agreements with the Greek Cypriot administration, Egypt, and Israel.

Reaffirming that it would continue protecting its legitimate interests via diplomatic and military means, Ankara has said the Oruc Reis would conduct research in the region until Aug. 23.

Last month, after Athens objected to Ankara's seismic survey in an area south of the island of Meis, or Kastellorizo, German diplomatic efforts helped defuse tensions between Turkey and Greece.

But Greece's controversial move last week to sign a maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt, which Turkey says violates its continental shelf and maritime rights, has further sparked tensions between the two neighbors.

Ankara accuses Greece of pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and underlines that its maritime claims violate Turkey's sovereign rights.

Turkey has long contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry shared a map Monday showing the areas in its continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) where the Oruc Reis would be active.

The area of operation authorized by Turkey includes parts of Greece's so-called maritime jurisdiction where Athens wants adjacent EEZs with the Greek Cypriot administration.

Thus, Turkey showed in the field that the Greek-Greek Cypriot plan was void and that the so-called contiguous maritime jurisdiction areas, which aim to surround the Anatolian peninsula, were invalid.

Ankara, therefore, gave the message that it would protect the contact between Turkey's and Libya's continental shelves, which Greece and Egypt sought to cut off with their agreement.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said Ankara would award licenses for drilling activities in the western part of the country's maritime jurisdiction.

Egyptian losses

Hoping to expand its zone of interest, Egypt had signed an agreement with the Greek Cypriot administration in 2003 to mark its maritime jurisdiction.

However, Cairo would not have lost 11,500 square kilometers (3,352 square nautical miles) it left to the Greek Cypriot administration if it had foreseen Turkey's policy to draw a midline on the sea.

Likewise, it would also have retained 6,000 square km (1,780 square nautical miles) from Greece, had it agreed with Turkey and Libya.

Greek contractions

Athens' disputes with Turkey have continued for many years in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece claims that even its smaller islands that span the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean -- many of which are only a few kilometers from Turkey's mainland -- project maritime rights and have a continental shelf.

Athens claims 40,000 square km (11,660 square nautical miles) of maritime jurisdiction with the zone that it attributes to the 10 square km (2,470 acres) island of Meis which is 580 km (313 nautical miles) from its mainland.

However, it compromised its claims in its agreement with Egypt, restricting the continental shelf of the islands that it traditionally defended.

It thus refuted its own claims that the continental shelves of the islands could be restricted.

The Greek administration had also previously agreed to limit the continental shelves of some of its islands in the Ionian Sea agreement in a similar treaty with Italy.

Regional, extensive solution

While Ankara continues to defend its legitimate interests in the Eastern Mediterranean through diplomatic and military activities, it calls on the international community, especially the countries in its region, to enter comprehensive dialogue-based cooperation.

On Monday, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement that the country was always ready to fairly resolve conflicts through dialogue.

Erdogan also called on Mediterranean countries to cooperate in finding "an acceptable formula that protects the rights of all."

"No way Turkey would consent to any initiative trying to lock the country to its shores, ignoring the vast Turkish territory," he said.

EU calls for dialogue in Eastern Mediterranean

The latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean are “extremely worrying” and must be solved through dialogue, said a European Union spokesman Tuesday.

"What is needed to be done is to engage in solving all the open issues in line with principles of good neighborly relations, international law, and positive engagement," European Commission spokesman Peter Stano told a news conference.

In response to Greece’s call for an extraordinary meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, Stano said a decision will be made soon through consultations among the member states.

He added that Turkey’s actions will also be discussed at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Berlin later this month.

 

Greek call for extraordinary meeting

Greece decided to ask for an extraordinary EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting as announced Tuesday after a meeting between Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mitsotakis also briefed President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and the heads of the country’s other major political parties.

Alexis Tsipras, main opposition SYRIZA leader and former prime minister, called for an extraordinary EU summit to be convened to discuss recent developments.

Dendias also met with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt at the Foreign Ministry building in Athens where the two discussed the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, Dendias wrote on Twitter.

As part of the country's hydrocarbon exploration activities, Turkey announced via Navtex the drillship MTA Oruc Reis' new seismic research activity in the Eastern Mediterranean starting Aug. 10.

The Oruc Reis, along with the ships Ataman and Cengiz Han, will continue seismic activities in the Eastern Mediterranean through Aug. 23.

Last month, after Athens objected to Ankara's seismic survey in an area south of the island of Meis, or Kastellorizo, German diplomatic efforts helped defuse tension between Turkey and Greece.

But, Greece’s controversial move last week to sign a maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt, which Turkey says violates its continental shelf and maritime rights, has sparked further tension between the two neighbors.

Ankara accuses Greece of pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, stressing that its maritime claims violate Turkey’s sovereign rights.