Turkey will host military drills involving the use of live ammunition in the eastern Mediterranean next week, according to a tweet by Turkey's TRT Arabic news outlet, amid ongoing tensions over disputed waters between Ankara and its neighbors.
The drills will take place on Tuesday, September 1, and Wednesday, September 2, said TRT, despite concerns being voiced by Greece, Cyprus and other countries over Turkey's increasingly assertive claims over mineral rights in vast swathes of disputed waters.
“We are determined to protect our rights in the eastern Mediterranean,” the Turkish media outlet quoted the country's Defense Minister Hulusi Agar as saying.
Agar echoed the words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said on Wednesday that Ankara was “determined to do whatever is necessary” to secure its claims in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tensions between Turkey and Greece escalated after Ankara sent its Oruc Reis survey vessel to disputed eastern Mediterranean waters this month, a move Athens called illegal.
Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.