Turkey’s latest provocation: a ship exploring Greek waters
Turkey has sent a ship to explore the waters in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean at the Greek border. The Ankara’s survey ship is searching for potentially rich oil and gas deposits south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo. This move put Athens in alarm. On Monday, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a meeting with military chiefs, following Turkey’s international maritime alert, known as a Navtex. The Greek Foreign Ministry described this mission as a new serious escalation that exposed Turkey’s destabilizing role in the region.
The European Union repeatedly called the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to respect the sovereignty of neighboring countries. This step represents just the last infringement on the sovereignty of Greece and its territorial waters in a long history of border disputes.
Also, there are tensions around Cyprus over rival exploration rights. The Republic of Cyprus and Greece do not accept any such rights for Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus in the region and the self-styled Republic, defended by Erdogan, is not internationally recognized. Last year Turkey sent two drilling ships, Fatih and Yavuz, to waters off Cyprus. All this confirms that Turkey proves its ambitions to seize the wealth of other countries.
It’s clear that the latest move of Ankara arrives in response to the agreement signed on August, 6 by Greece and Egypt, regarding the demarcation of the maritime borders between the two countries. The deal conflicts with a rival EEZ that Turkey and the internationally-recognized government in Libya have sought to establish. Such zones can extend for 200 nautical miles. The Ankara Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu commenting the deal between the two countries, warned: “Turkey will continue to show them and the world that this agreement is null and void on the table and in the field.”
The latest mission in the Eastern Mediterranean contradicts Erdogan’s recent speech in which he called for dialogue with Greece in resolving disputes. In late July, the tension following Turkey’s announcement that it plans to conduct seismic research in parts of the Greek continental shelf and the military mobilization that this triggered in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, prompted the intervention of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a de-escalation. But to date, no one has managed to curb Erdogan’s expansionist desires. Turkey is still seeking to obtain energy sources through its encroachment on the borders of other countries in Libya previously, and now Greece.