TURKEY’S president has issued a warning to Greece, Cyprus and international companies exploring for gas in the eastern Mediterranean not to “step out of line” and encroach on Turkish rights.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan made

the warning in an address to legislators of his ruling party as Turkish warships continued to

stop a rig reaching a location off Cyprus where Italian energy company Eni is scheduled to drill for gas.

It came as Greek authorities said a Turkish coastguard vessel had rammed a Greek coastguard boat off a couple of uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea over which the two Nato allies nearly went to war in 1996.

Turkey opposes the gas drilling, claiming that it disregards the rights of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

The Cypriot government says it has a sovereign right to drill, and that if the search is successful, any income would be shared equitably if the island is reunified.

The European Union on Monday cautioned Turkey to respect the territory of its member states and to avoid ratcheting up tensions.

“Opportunistic attempts concerning gas exploration off Cyprus and concerning Aegean islets are not escaping our attentions,” Erdogan said.

“We are warning those who step out of line with miscalculations in Cyprus and the Aegean.”