Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Wednesday set off for Azerbaijan to observe joint military exercises.
He was accompanied by a delegation comprising army chief Gen. Yasar Guler and top naval, land and air forces commanders.
The military exercises are projected for Thursday and will be attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
Greece’s controversial move last week to sign a maritime delimitation agreement with Egypt, while also sitting for talks with Turkey in Germany, is unethical, said a Turkish political party leader Wednesday.
Turkey’s internal and external problems have intensified, said Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in a written statement.
Global and regional tension is worrying, and the port blast in Beirut has also negatively affected Lebanon’s internal politics and the regional dynamics, he said.
Stressing that the Beirut blast was one of the gravest calamities of our time, Bahceli said the event would be investigated and the possibility of sabotage or neglect would soon come to light. All problems in Lebanon affect Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, and the world, he added.
Tensions in Eastern Mediterranean
Saying that a visit last week to Lebanon by two top Turkish officials was very timely, Bahceli added: “Turkey is acting in line with its historical responsibility towards its brothers in Lebanon.”
“The Beirut explosion happened […] while Turkey and Greece are in a face-off. Two days later, Greece and Egypt signed a so-called maritime deal. The area that is supposedly demarcated by these two countries is clearly on Turkey’s continental shelf. This also violates Libya’s maritime jurisdiction. While Greece sits in negotiations with Turkey in Germany, it also signs a so-called and null agreement with Egypt, and this is an unethical setup,” Bahceli said.
A powerful explosion rocked Beirut port on Aug. 4 after a neglected stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse ignited, killing at least 171 people, injuring 6,000 others and leaving approximately 300,000 people homeless. The blast took place at a time when Lebanon was already dealing with a severe financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey in Mediterranean to stay
Bahceli accused “those who want to isolate Turkey from […] the Eastern Mediterranean” of also trying to cut Ankara off from Lebanon.
Greece is in a hostile approach, but Turkey is not afraid to retaliate, Bahceli said.
“No one can remove Turkey from the Mediterranean. We aren’t giving up a single stone of our 780,000 square kilometers of land and we’ll never give up a single drop of our 460,000 square kilometers of Blue Homeland.”
Turkey’s seismic research ship, the Oruc Reis, “will always protect our rights in the Mediterranean. If anyone comes against Turkey, they’ll face retaliation”, he added.
Turkey won’t give up on Blue Homeland
Greece is acting in violation of the Lausanne Agreement and acting against the unarmed status of the Aegean islands, according to Bahceli. “Greece should retreat from the islands and rocks, which it invaded illegally. It should disarm the islands and stop its provocations in the Mediterranean.”
“The maritime, air and land disagreements between Greece and Turkey should be resolved through diplomacy. Solutions within international law and neighbor countries’ rights can yield results. Turkey cannot give up on its Blue Homeland and turn its back on its own jurisdiction area,” he said.
Ankara’s sovereignty will always be defended and Greece and Egypt should reconsider their so-called agreement and partnerships, Bahceli added.
He said that Turkey was increasingly being surrounded by a ring of fire, with the situation in the Southern Caucasus becoming more complex and post-election unrest erupting in Belarus due to “foreign pressure.”
“While all these happen in foreign politics, there are efforts to harm Turkey and Syria’s, as well as Turkey’s and Lebanon’s, brotherhood,” he added.
“Turkey is an independent state. If we cannot protect our rights, we will lose our national dignity. Our party will do everything in its power to support this purpose,” Bahceli said.
Turkey on Wednesday confirmed 1,212 new cases of the coronavirus bringing the tally to 244,392, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
The country also confirmed 934 more recoveries, pushing the total to 227,089, said Koca.
Meanwhile, 18 more people lost their lives to the virus that has claimed 5,891 lives in Turkey.
Turkey will reopen schools on Sept. 21 with measures in place to counter the coronavirus, the country’s education minister said Wednesday.
Ziya Selcuk said in a news conference that students will return to the campus gradually and in phases.
The minister said classrooms will be arranged in accordance with social distancing rules and schools provided with disinfectants and masks.
He went on to say that the continuation of face-to-face classes depended on how responsibly families and students behaved.
According to Selcuk, swift measures will be taken if students’ families or nearby circles are diagnosed with coronavirus.
Over 2,000 inspectors have been checking standards of schools ahead of the planned reopening.
The new school year will commence nationwide on Aug. 31 with classes held remotely.
Private schools may start online classes from Aug. 17.
Schools across the country were closed in mid-March as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Turkey has so far reported over 244,000 coronavirus cases and above 227,000 recoveries. The death toll stands at 5,891.
The Turkish president met on Wednesday the management of Anadolu Agency, the country’s most trusted news source, as part of its centenary celebrations.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted a reception, which lasted for more than an hour, at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.
The news agency was established on April 6, 1920 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic. It operates in 13 languages and provides news to nearly 6,000 subscribers from 100 countries.
Drawing on the global developments, the president emphasized the media’s role in conveying the truth.
Among the attendees were Director General of Anadolu Agency Senol Kazanci, Muhammet Salih Demirkan, deputy chairman of the board, board members Ali Turker Pirtini, Bahadir Saracgil and Saban Kizildag, Deputy Director General and Editor-in-Chief Metin Mutanoglu and Deputy Director General Mustafa Ozkaya.
Turkey’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and officials from the presidency were also present.