Turkey has responded to all interventions on its energy exploration ship in the Mediterranean and will continue to do so in the future, the Turkish defense minister said Friday.

"No intervention on our ships have been or will be left unanswered. We want everyone to know that we are unyielding on this issue," Hulusi Akar said in a video conference with top commanders on duty in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, including the ships accompanying its seismic research vessel, the Oruc Reis.

"We're determined to protect our rights and interests in our seas and to do what is necessary and we're capable of doing so," Akar added.

"The Republic of Turkey as a state doesn't covet anyone's land," said Akar, underlining that Ankara respected its neighbors' territorial and political integrity.

"Greece doesn't recognize international law in the Aegean and Mediterranean, only selfish, one-sided demands and approaches that protect its own interests and are incompatible with the facts. We endeavor to explain that the activities carried out this way are not compatible with reason, logic or law and that it doesn't benefit anyone."

Akar stressed that a recent maritime delimitation agreement signed last week between Greece and Egypt had "no legal basis" and that both countries were "at loss."

He also asserted that international disputes must be resolved through dialogue as the "most important tool in solving the problems between Turkey and Greece."

Earlier this week, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal.

Greece stoking tensions in Mediterranean: Turkish president

Turkey's president on Thursday blamed Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration for increasing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean by excluding Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

"It's not Turkey that is increasing tensions in the Mediterranean, but rather the Greek Cypriot-Greek mentality attempting to disregard Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the 19th foundation anniversary of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

Erdogan repeated Turkey's call for dialogue and negotiation with Athens as "the only way to a resolution in the Eastern Mediterranean" for a "win-win solution." "We'd never pursue an unnecessary adventure or stoke tensions."

Reiterating that recent seismic research by Ankara's drill ship, the MTA Oruc Reis, in the Eastern Mediterranean was within the boundaries of Turkey's continental shelf, he stressed that Turkey had no interest in violating any other country's rights but would also not allow infringements on its own.

He said all Turkey's actions in the region were legitimate and that recent actions against Turkey by other countries were meant to encircle the country from the sea.

"We'll never bow to this scheme. No country or company can conduct [drilling] surveys in our areas without our permission."

Erdogan criticized Greece's claims of maritime jurisdiction via its island of Meis, or Kastellorizo, off Turkey's coast, saying that the case for a zone of 40,000 square kilometers (11,662 square nautical miles) via the roughly 10 square km (3.9 square miles) island was "ridiculous and unfounded."

During his speech, Erdogan said he was due to hold phone talks separately with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel late on Thursday.

As part of the country's hydrocarbon surveying activities, Turkey issued a NAVTEX (navigational telex) on Aug. 10, 2020, announcing that the Oruc Reis would begin conducting fresh seismic research in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey's decision came following a controversial delimitation deal signed between Greece and Egypt, only a day after Turkey said it would postpone its activities in the region as a sign of goodwill after mediation efforts from Germany.

But, after declaring the treaty "null and void," Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis to continue its activities in an area within Turkey's continental shelf.

Greek foreign minister in Israel to 'promote tourism'

Greece’s foreign minister arrived Thursday in Israel to finalize tourism arrangements amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, during a meeting with his counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi, was "set to finalize the details of an agreement that would see Israeli tourists travel to Greece without the need for mandatory quarantine,” according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, 

Most European countries still refuse entry to Israelis because of the high rate of infections in Israel, the newspaper said. 

Dendias later met with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

The visit is another expression of "the great friendship between Israel and Greece" Netanyahu said, adding that the two countries have common geopolitical interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Tuesday, supported Greece in its dispute with Turkey. “Israel follows closely as tension rises in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel expresses its full support and solidarity with Greece in its maritime zones and its right to delimit its exclusive economic zone,” it said. 

Tensions in the region are on the rise due to the exploration and drilling activities of hydrocarbon sources in the Mediterranean Sea. 

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 tension between the two neighbors.

Turkey announced on Monday that its seismic vessel Oruc Reis will conduct research in the region until Aug. 23.

Ankara criticizes Athens for pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and underlines that Greece's maritime claims violate Turkey’s sovereign rights.

Turkey, Libya ink deal to boost trade, economic ties

Turkey and Libya have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost trade and economic ties, the Turkish trade minister said Thursday.

The deal will lay the groundwork for resolving ongoing issues between Turkish firms and Libyan employers, making new investments, and undertaking new projects, Ruhsar Pekcan told a meeting held in Turkey's capital Ankara.

Pekcan told how some construction projects begun by Turkish companies in Libya had recently been interrupted.

"There were uncertainties regarding completion of these projects and Turkish companies had remaining receivables in these projects," she said.

Pointing to the brotherly ties between the two countries, Pekcan said this is also reflected in their bilateral economic and trade ties. 

Turkish companies set to begin new projects to meet Libya’s needs will support the country’s stability and development process besides helping raise the general welfare, she stressed.

"This process will be a new opportunity to show the whole world Turkish-Libyan cooperation," Pekcan underlined.