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    Turkey to fully protect rights in E.Med, Libya, Aegean

    Turkey is fully focused on protecting its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya, and the Aegean, the nation’s president said on Saturday.

    Turkey is also focused on stopping terrorist groups in Syria and northern Iraq, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Rize on the Turkish Black Sea, speaking to the public and local members of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.

    “We’re conducting the most comprehensive and successful operations in history against terrorist groups,” he said.

    Since 2016, Turkey has launched several cross-border operations in both northern Syria and northern Iraq to eliminate the YPG/PKK terrorists there who plan attacks against Turkey and try to set up terror corridors.

    In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the terrorist PKK’s Syrian branch.

    “We’re currently focused on achieving the rights and interests of our country in every field at the most advanced level all over the world,” Erdogan said, adding that this is Turkey’s real agenda.

    Erdogan underlined that the country is also striving to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic and its fallout, as well as strengthening the Turkish economy.

    Turkey has become a source of hope for all oppressed regions, including Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Myanmar’s Rakhine state with its oppressed Rohingya, and Libya, he said.

    Eastern Mediterranean

    On Ankara’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean region, Erdogan said Turkey is fully justified in its exploration in terms of both international maritime law and established conventions.

    Turkey will continue to defend its rights “using all its means,” he said.

    “Turkey will never bow to banditry on its continental shelf, nor will it pull back in the face of sanctions and threats.”

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

    The agreement came just one day after Ankara offered a goodwill gesture of postponing oil and gas exploration.

    But after declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal “null and void,” Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis energy exploration vessel to continue its activities in an area within the country’s continental shelf.

    The ship will continue a two-week mission until Aug. 23 along with the ships Cengiz Han and Ataman.

    “We will never hesitate to respond to the slightest harassment of our ship,” Erdogan said, adding that Turkey never seeks to stir tension or claim the rights of others.

    He stressed that Turkey defends the rights of the nation as well as the Turkish Cypriots.

    Erdogan said the only solution to the dispute lies through dialogue and negotiation and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights.

    Turkey has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.

    Turkey’s freedom of religion

    Turning to Greece’s mistreatment of the Turkish minority in the country, Erdogan said: “Our expectation is that Greece acts sensibly, not as incited by others, and to put an end to policies akin to state terrorism, especially against our brothers in Western Thrace.”

    Greece’s Western Thrace region – in the country’s northeast, near the Turkish border – is home to a substantial, long-established Muslim Turkish minority numbering around 150,000.

    Decades of Greek mistreatment of the Turkish minority has been ignored by the EU, even as it violates international treaties, high court rulings, and the bloc’s own rules.

    Decrying attacks on Turks’ mosques and schools in Western Thrace, Erdogan said that Turkey, in contrast, spent five years renovating the ancient Orthodox Sumela Monastery in its Black Sea region, which recently restarted mass services.

    “We have no problem with anyone over freedom of religion. Everyone in this country can live safely according to their faith,” Erdogan said.


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