Greece calls Turkey's seismic survey in Mediterranean illegal

Andrew Cummings
August 10, 2020

Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez had earlier tweeted that the Oruc Reis had "reached the destination where work would be undertaken", near the island of Kastellorizo.

Egypt and Greece are at odds with Turkey, which past year angered the two countries by signing a maritime delimitation agreement with the internationally recognized Libyan government, in a move that escalated disputes over potential offshore gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey had called off an earlier search by the Oruc Reis last month to hold negotiations with Greece and Germany, which holds the rotating European Union presidency.

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

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

Turkey is always ready to resolve the issue of the Eastern Mediterranean through dialogue on an equitable basis, the Turkish president said on August 10.

Turkey sent out a message on NAVTEX, the worldwide maritime navigational telex system, announcing the vessel would be carrying out activities off the island of Kastellorizo between August 10 and 23.

Tension has increased in recent months over drilling rights and maritime boundaries.

The EU has said it is concerned about naval manoeuvres in the eastern Mediterranean as Turkey resumes its energy exploration work in the area.

Ankara has long accused Greece of pursuing maximalist policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and underlined that its maritime claims violate Turkey's sovereign rights.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a meeting of the government council for defence issues on Monday which examined "ways of reaction to the Turkish provocation", the conservative premier's office said.

"The moment the agreement with Egypt was announced, we received a clear instruction from our president: 'You are halting the talks".

Kalin said Turkey is in favor of resolving the dispute through dialogue.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies and neighbors Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over a wide variety of issues and have come to the brink of war three times since the mid-1970s, including once over drilling exploration rights. "Inform the Germans and the Greeks, we are not pressing ahead with the negotiations, '" Kalin told CNN-Turk television.

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

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.

The UAE, Egypt, France, Cyprus and Greece condemned the agreements, which would give Turkey access to potentially lucrative natural gas reserves in the area.

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