Turkey navy ops in eastern Med 'extremely worrying'

Marco Green
August 10, 2020

Previously Turkey made a decision to suspend drilling in the region as a gesture of goodwill for the ongoing negotiations between Athens and Ankara, which aimed for a solution on differences in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"They will not contribute to finding any solutions".

On August 6, 2020, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, signed an agreement on the demarcation of maritime borders between Egypt and Greece.

Greece's prime minister has convened the government's national security council amid growing tensions with Turkey over drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

The warnings from Brussels come as Turkey restarts its contentious drilling and exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said Monday that the Oruc Reis had arrived in its area of operation from its anchorage off Turkey's southern coast, near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

A senior Greek minister added that navy ships were monitoring the Turkish seismic research ship. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on August 7 that Turkey resumed energy exploration work in the region "to be constructive" amid ongoing talks with Athens.

The Greek ministry said Athens "will not accept any blackmail" and "will defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights.".

Turkey's resumed search for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean is "extremely worrying", the European Union said Sunday (9 August) after Greece and Egypt set up an exclusive economic zone in the region.

Following the signing of the Greco-Egyptian deal, which has received the full backing of the UAE, Turkey restarted its cat-and-mouse exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean.

At the end of July, direct naval clashes between Greece and Turkey, both members of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, were only narrowly avoided after an eleventh-hour intervention by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We are in complete political and operational readiness", Minister of State George Gerapetritis said on state television ERT.

"The majority of the fleet is ready at the moment to go wherever required", he added.

"This is another move to keep Turkey out of the eastern Mediterranean and to restrict it to the Gulf of Antalya", Kalin said.

The Turkish foreign ministry said the "so-called maritime deal" was "null and void".

Last year, Turkey signed a similar deal with the UN-backed Libyan government in Tripoli, sparking outrage in Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, who all said it infringed on their economic rights in the Mediterranean.

Differences in policy in the eastern Mediterranean have thrown into sharp relief not only contradictions in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation but also in the EU.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke on Monday morning with European Council President Charles Michel, informing him about the Greek-Egyptian agreement and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, officials said. He is scheduled to speak with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday evening.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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