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Erdogan says Turkey to continue exercising ‘sovereign rights’ in Aegean, ‘as we did with Hagia Sophia’

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The Turkish President has continued to increase tensions in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, saying on Thursday that that Ankara intends to carry on with the “work it has started in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.”

According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, his comments came hours after the Turkish seismic survey vessel Barbaros sailed toward Cyprus.

Read More: Turkey withdraws Oruc Reis navy ship, sends Barbaros to Cypriot waters instead

“We will not hesitate to exercise our sovereign rights, as in the example of Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, which we reopened for worship,” Erdogan reportedly added.

Turkish seismic survey vessel Barbaros sailed toward Cyprus under new orders under Erdogan.

The Barbaros was called in only hours after Turkish officials called off gas exploration activities near the Greek island of Kastellorizo with the Oruc Reis. It was sent in response to a NAVTEX message issued by Ankara, reserving an area inside Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone to conduct hydrocarbon research until September 18, Kathimerini Cyprus reported.

Read More: Greece says tension easing in East Med dispute with Turkey but remain alert

Earlier this week, Erdogan’s spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said at the time he was prepared to sit at the negotiation table with counterparts in Athens.

“In line with the instructions of our president, we are ready to discuss all issues; the Aegean, continental shelf, islands, airspace, research and screening efforts, and Eastern Mediterranean along with other bilateral matters with Greece without any precondition,” Kalin said.

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