Turkish daily "Hürriyet Daily News" quotes a Turkish official as saying that the eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their “bullying” practices against civilian vessels. He said that this would be the outcome of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s statement, “Turkey would take every precaution it deems necessary for the safety of maritime navigation in the eastern Mediterranean.”
"Hürriyet" added that Davutoğlu’s statement would likely spark a new face-off between Turkey and Israel, the region’s strongest armies, in the eastern Mediterranean. A potential confrontation between the two countries’ navies would have serious negative consequences for regional stability.
Turkish diplomats told the "Hürriyet" that the Turkish Navy would be more visible in the eastern Mediterranean through regular patrolling in international waters. “A more aggressive strategy will be pursued. Israel will no longer be able to exercise its bullying practices freely,” one said. The sources added that the use of Turkish naval vessels to escort ships carrying aid to Palestine and observing free navigation in the zone between Cyprus and Israel were among the plans set to be implemented, and that Turkish warships would be more frequently seen in the area.
"Hürriyet" notes that the zone described by Turkish sources has been the subject of a recent diplomatic struggle between Turkey and Greek Cyprus over the latter’s project to start drilling natural gas reserves. Greek Cyprus and Israel recently agreed to jointly initiate the drilling with the participation of some American companies. Turkey sees Cyprus's gas exploration deal as an agreement between two countries hostile to it, and has urged both parties not to get involved in such a project before a solution is found to the Cyprus issue in order to preserve the stability of the eastern Mediterranean.
The reference is to Block 12, Cyprus's offshore natural gas concession awarded to Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL). The company's partners in Leviathan and Tamar, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), has an option to acquire 30% of the concession.
In an interview with "Sunday's Zaman", EU Minister Egemen Bağış hinted that Turkish Navy could intervene if Greek Cyprus does not call off the project, schedule to begin on October 1. “That’s what a navy is for,” he said.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 4, 2011
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