Turkey's Erdogan - Reuters - June 30, 2011
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara June 30, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks broadcast on Al Jazeera television on Thursday.

Erdogan also said that Turkey had taken steps to stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources from the eastern Mediterranean, according to Al Jazeera's Arabic translation of excerpts of the interview, which was conducted in Turkish.

Last Saturday, Turkish officials told Hurriyet Daily News that the Turkish navy will significantly strengthen its presence in the easter Mediterranean Sea, as one of the steps the Turkish government has decided to take following the release of the UN Palmer report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla.

"The eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their bullying practices against civilian vessels," a Turkish official was quoted as saying.

As part of the plan, the Turkish navy will increase its patrols in the eastern Mediterranean and pursue "a more aggressive strategy".