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Why Erdogan won't start a war with Greece over Mediterranean drilling

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a hospital's opening ceremony, in Istanbul, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks at a hospital's opening ceremony, in Istanbul, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 Copyright Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool
Copyright Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool
By Alessio Dell'AnnaEuronews with AP
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Ankara is currently facing off against Greece over oil and gas drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.


Tensions are still running very high in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey is prospecting the seabed for energy reserves in an area that Greece claims as its own continental shelf.

This row over drilling rights has sparked strong responses from each side, with the two NATO allies deploying naval and air forces to assert their competing claims in the region.

On Saturday, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a stark warning to Athens.

“They’re either going to understand the language of politics and diplomacy, or they will experience something painful in the field,” he said at a hospital opening ceremony in Istanbul.

But experts argue that his words are mainly designed for domestic propaganda rather than representing an actual ultimatum.

Turkey analyst at GlobalSource Partners, Atilla Yeşilada, told Euronews that Erdogan "wants Greece at the negotiating table", but added that Greece isn't likely to come.

"We have been at this point at least a thousand times since the 1974 Cyprus conflict and nothing has changed".

At the same time, he ruled out that the current row could escalate into an actual military conflict.

"The tension will not mutate into war and the standoff will continue with both sides doing what they're used to do".

Erdogan is currently holding talks with the EU, but Yeşilada believes that it is the US that could succeed in brokering a deal between Greece and Turkey.

"If Biden is elected in the US he could be a successful interlocutor", Yeşilada pointed out.

"In the past, when tensions run very high, we saw American arbitration worked to a certain extent".

Watch the interview in the video player above.

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