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Turkey “responded” to “attack” on gas exploration ship in contested waters: Erdogan

Turkey and Greece are on the brink of military conflict in the eastern Mediterranean, with French military assets also now in the area supporting Cyprus and Greece

President Erdoğan in a televised speech Thursday made an alarming claim, saying the Turkish hydrocarbons exploration ship Oruç Reis has come under some sort of “attack”.

Though he didn’t specify details or offer evidence, he said Turkish forces responded. “We have already told them that if they attack Oruç Reis, in response, there would be a heavy price to pay. And we have given the first response today,” Erdogan said in the address, according to state media.

A build-up of Greek Navy ships and Turkish warships – the latter escorting the Oruç Reis – has already been confirmed after official Turkish government sources released earlier photos showing a military escort while the seismic research vessel probes near Greece’s easternmost islands.

If there was an actual exchange of fire, or perhaps a ramming incident, it likely would not have involved the Oruç Reis directly, but instead one among the multiple Turkish military escort vessels.

A build-up of Greek Navy ships and Turkish warships – the latter escorting the Oruç Reis – has already been confirmed after official Turkish government sources released earlier photos showing a military escort while the seismic research vessel probes near Greece’s easternmost islands.

If there was an actual exchange of fire, or perhaps a ramming incident, it likely would not have involved the Oruç Reis directly, but instead one among the multiple Turkish military escort vessels.

There have been some Greek media reports suggesting there was a direct, brief encounter between Greek and Turkish warships.

Turkish sources are reporting a Greek frigate was damage after it came too close to the Oruc Reis, while Greek media says merely minor contact – a “kiss” of sorts between the vessels.

Whatever the case, the two sides are now only likely to build-up their forces in the region further, also given Athens has found new confidence in France’s Emmanuel Macron newly pledging to boost French military presence in support of Greece and Cyprus.

Source: ZERO HEDGE

Notes:

The vessel, named after a 16th-century Ottoman pirate, started survey work earlier this week near the island of Kastellorizo, which belongs to Greece but is located near the southern coast of Turkey’s Antalya province.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday he would be sending additional military forces into the eastern Mediterranean in support of fellow EU and NATO member Greece. Macron also called for Turkey to stop the survey and resolve the issue with Athens through dialogue.

On Thursday, Greek media reported that two French Rafale jets flew over the Oruc Reis and its Turkish navy escorts, as they participated in joint exercises with the Hellenic Navy.

Two French vessels, the frigate La Fayette and helicopter carrier Tonnerre, took part in the drills alongside four Greek frigates: Spetsai, Aegean, Koundouriotis and Limnos.

Limnos was the ship reportedly involved in a collision with the Turkish navy frigate Kemal Reis – one of Oruc Reis’s military escorts – on Wednesday morning. Greek media reported that the clash left several Greek sailors injured, but rendered the Turkish vessel “inoperable,” which Ankara denied.

Turkey and Greece last fought a war between 1919 and 1922, which ended in a mass exodus of Greeks from the present-day territory of the Turkish republic. In 1974, Ankara invaded Cyprus and backed a breakaway ethnic Turkish state, after the Cypriot government declared intent to unite with Greece. The island nation remains divided to this day.

Both Turkey and Greece are NATO members, but Athens is also a member of the EU, while Ankara is not.

Source: RT