Turkey vs Greece: Furious Turkey declares right to defend 'blue homeland'

Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara has the right to defend its claim over vast areas of the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea, which he called the “blue homeland”. Speaking on Friday, he said: “We have no claims on anyone’s land or sea. Nevertheless, we will not back down on our rights.

“We are determined and capable of defending our rights across the ‘blue homeland’ as well as Cyprus.”

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan challenges Greek and Cypriot maritime laws which confine Turkey to narrow stripes of coastal waters in the region.

Greece claims sovereignty over the energy-rich waterways, stretching 200miles from its coastline as part of the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea.

Mr Erdogan appeared to provoke Greece during an address to his AKP party last Wednesday.

The Turkish leader branded the Mediterranean as the “Sea of Islands”, in a nod to retired admiral Cihat Yayci.

The former military leader is seen as a key figure in the “blue homeland” notion, which claims control over the waterways.

Mr Erdogan insisted there should not be “concerns about Turkey’s presence from the eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea, as well as in the Aegean, which old-timers called the Sea of Islands”.

The warning from Turkey comes amid ongoing skirmishes in the seas and in the skies between the old foes.

Greek government spokesman Christos Tarantili said: “It’s an unnecessary move which does not help positive sentiment.”

Ankara insisted the boat was in international waters and was permitted to conduct research.

Greek and Turkish officials met in Ankara on January 25 to discuss the ongoing maritime dispute.

The summit came after a five-year hiatus but was unable to make a breakthrough.

A second meeting is due to take place later this month ahead of an EU summit.

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