Turkish premier says his country and Greece should share oil reserves With undated
Turkish premier says his country and Greece should share oil reserves With undated AM-Greece-Turkey Bjt
LONDON (AP) _ Turkish Premier Turgut Ozal said Saturday his country is not at the same level of military readiness as Greece and he hoped there would be no war but, ″If they touch our ships, we will touch theirs.″
The 60-year-old leader, in London for convalescence after bypass heart surgery in Houston, Texas, last month, said if the Aegean Sea has resources like oil, Greece and Turkey should share the benefits of the disputed waters, ″which would be just and fair.″
Both countries are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and NATO officials worked feverishly to avoid a confrontation when Turkey on Thursday sent an oil exploration vessel under naval escort toward an area of the continental shelf claimed by both countries. Turkey claimed Greece was planning to drill for oil in the disputed area.
Greece threatened to stop the Turkish ships and went on military alert.
Late Friday, Ozal said the Turkish exploration ship would stay out of areas under dispute, and his Foreign Ministry said it had ″detected a tendency″ by Greece to adhere to the 1976 Bern agreement under which both countries pledged to refrain from provocative acts in the Aegean.
″I have heard the Greeks are on red alert, but we are one degree less than (military) readiness,″ Ozal said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
He was asked if he thought there was a danger of war and replied, ″I hope not.″
Ozal said his government would not send any exploration ships into the disputed area ″unless the Greeks move. And if they touch our ships, we will touch theirs.″
He said the Houston surgeons had done ″a very good job and I feel all right.″
His doctors had told him to ″work much less, but then this business with Greece came on Thursday,″ he said, ahd he had about 16 hours of meetings with advisers and journalists during the day.
Ozal said his government only decided to dispatch the oil survey vessel when the Greeks said they would drill for oil in waters east of the island of Thassos.
″We said in that case we would give rights of oil exploration to our national oil company ... and the Greeks cried that we were coming in force to the continental shelf. But we didn’t want to increase tension,″ he added.
Ozal, premier since 1983, said Greece has rebuffed his efforts to improve relations.
He said he did away with visas for Greeks to visit Turkey but there was no similar response from Greek Premier Andreas Papandreou.
There also was no Greek response to his proposals to sign a non-aggression pact and talks to resolve the Aegean dispute and differences over other territorial waters and airspace, Ozal said.
″The Aegean is a very complex sea with a thousand islands which are an extension of (Turkish) Anatolia, but Greece has islands right up to within two to three miles of the Turkish mainland,″ he added.
Ozal also claimed Papandreou made it difficult to discuss anything, saying ″95 percent of the Aegean is mine.″