Turkey will continue to use all diplomatic and military means to ensure stability to its south, including in Libya, says President Erdogan, adding Turkey's seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis would soon be deployed.
Turkey is beginning to send troops into Libya in support of the internationally-recognised government in Tripoli, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, days before a summit in Berlin that will address the Libyan conflict.
Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan added that Turkey will continue to use all diplomatic and military means to ensure stability to its south, including in Libya. Erdogan is due to meet leaders of Germany, Russia, Britain and Italy on Sunday to discuss the conflict.
He also said Turkey would start granting licences for exploration and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean in 2020, in accord with a maritime agreement with Libya.
He said Turkey's Oruc Reis ship would begin off shore seismic activities in the region.
Ankara angered neighbouring countries in the Mediterranean with an agreement signed with the Tripoli government in November, which claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey.
Erdogan said it was "no longer legally possible" for any search and drilling activities or a pipeline without Libya or Turkey's approval.
Erdogan says Turkey to reach new heights in 2020
Turkey is all set to reach new heights in 2020 by protecting its rights, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said.
Through improvements in production, export and the employment rate, in addition to protecting our rights on the international front, particularly in the Mediterranean region, we are opening doors to a new period of progress, Erdogan said.
Erdogan stressed that this year Turkey will demonstrate its historic achievements for its freedom and future regardless of the circumstances.
Underlining that the attacks on Turkey have unprecedentedly increased in recent years, he said, Turkey will continue to frustrate those who expected it to surrender in 2019.
He added that Turkey completed 1,161 projects out of 1,451 in its 2019 action plan.
Highlighting the mega projects in Istanbul, Erdogan also touched on the newly-built mega-Istanbul Airport.
He said they planned to open the second phase of the first stage of the airport in June.
The Istanbul Airport, whose first phase officially opened in October 2018, took over air traffic from the former main Ataturk Airport on April 6.
The airport is projected to serve 200 million passengers annually with full capacity after the completion of all four phases with six runways by 2028.
Referring to the maritime traffic in Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait, Erdogan underlined the importance of building a new canal.
“It is not possible to prevent maritime traffic in Bosphorus legally, economically and socially. The only solution is to build an alternative canal,” he added.
The planned 45-kilometre canal to be built west of the city centre on the European side of the Istanbul province, aims to boost the city's marine through-traffic capacity.
The mega-project was approved by the country's Environment and Urbanisation Ministry but has come under criticism from the opposition and environment groups.
Praising the number of tourists visiting Turkey in 2019, Erdogan said Turkey aims to increase health tourism.
He said the number of tourists coming for health services reached 470,000 by the end of November 2019.
Regarding the country’s counter-terror operations, Erdogan said Turkey neutralised a total of 1,250 YPG/PKK terrorists and prevented dozens of terrorist activities.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people.