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Erdogan says attack on Turkish ship in Mediterranean dispute would clarify ‘high price’

ANKARA – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that any attack on a Turkish ship investigating for oil and gas in disputed Mediterranean waters would have a “high price” and indicated that Turkey had already acted on this warning.

Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have risen sharply this week after Turkey sent a reconnaissance vessel to the region, escorted by warships, in a move that Greece denounced as illegal.

“We said that if you attack our Oruc Reis, you will pay a high price and they got their first response today,”

; Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara without giving details.

Oruc Reis began his military escort on Monday to explore the waters between Crete and Cyprus.

In response, President Emmanuel Macron said France would increase its military presence in the region and called on Ankara to halt its investigative work. The French and Greek forces held military training exercises from Crete on Thursday.

EU foreign ministers, who have already imposed sanctions on two Turkish energy leaders over Turkey’s operations in the eastern Mediterranean, will discuss the situation on Friday.

Greek and French vessels are sailing in formation during a joint military exercise in the Mediterranean on Thursday.Greek Ministry of Defense / Reuters

The Greek Foreign Ministry said Minister Nikos Dendias would brief EU colleagues “on the real facts of recent days about operations in the region” at the emergency meeting.

Erdogan spoke by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Council President Charles Michel on Thursday. He “reiterated his commitment to defending Turkey’s rights against attempts to disregard them,” Erdogan’s office said of the call with Michel.

Both Turkey and Greece said this week that they were willing to resolve the dispute over their overlapping maritime claims, but promised to protect their interests and blamed the other side for the resistance.

“If we act with common sense and common sense, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone’s interests,” Erdogan said earlier on Thursday. “We do not chase unnecessary adventures or seek excitement.”

In blatant reference to France, Erdogan also said Greece was being pressured to take “wrong steps” in the region by “a country that does not even have a coast in the eastern Mediterranean.”

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