Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denounced a new Turkish Navtex for conducting a seismic survey in the Eastern Mediterranean, according to a ministry statement on Monday.
“Greece will not accept any blackmail and It will defend its sovereign rights,” the Greek ministry said.
“The new illegal Turkish Navtex for illegal exploration south of the island of Megisti on the Greek continental shelf, in combination with the observed wide mobility of units of the Turkish navy, is a new serious escalation,” the ministry added.
It added that Turkey’s actions come despite Greece’s commitment to the international law.
“Turkey is showing in practice that statements referring to its alleged readiness to enter into a dialogue are nothing but a mere pretext,” the ministry noted. “By pointing to the signing of the entirely legal Greek-Egyptian EEZ Agreement, Turkey has abandoned dialogue before it was even launched and is resorting to practices of past centuries, employing futile tactics in its effort to create fait accompli.”
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held a meeting, on Monday, with the country’s National Security Council, in which the country’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence were also present.
The Prime Minister’s office noted that Mitsotakis discussed the issue with EU Council President Charles Michel, and that he would also reach out to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, AFP reported.
Earlier in the day, Turkish Naval Forces issued Navtex saying that its ship, the Oruc Reis, would conduct a seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean. This is set to take place in the area between Cyprus and Greece over the next two weeks, until 23 August.
Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Fatih Donmez, tweeted that the research vessel arrived at its location in Antalya for the new mission.
“Our efforts in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea to Turkey’s energy independence will continue uninterrupted,” Donmez said on Monday.
Earlier this month, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs objected Turkey’s plans to carry out seismic surveys in Greece’s territorial waters in the eastern Mediterranean. Egypt noted that such acts are a ‘violation of sovereign rights’, and overlap with Egypt’s exclusive economic zone.
Turkey’s latest move comes only a few days after Egypt and Greece signed a maritime demarcation deal establishing an exclusive economic zone. This would see the full utilisation of mineral resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region, particularly the area’s oil and gas reserves.
The Greek-Egyptian EEZ Agreement lays out the boundaries between the two countries’ exclusive economic zones, amid growing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. These have been attributed to Turkey’s illegal attempts to explore for oil in the region.
Last Thursday, Mitsotakis said that the accord “established a new reality in the Eastern Mediterranean as it restores legality in the region”, according to Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
A day later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Ankara will resume its “energy drilling” in the Eastern Mediterranean, as Greece has not fulfilled its promises on this matter.
Erdoğan described the accord as “worthless”, alleging that it “violates the Turkish continental shelf”.
The Turkish President said he is committed to the accord signed in November 2019 with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA). The Turkish-GNA agreement on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea and expanding security and military cooperation was condemned by Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece.
Late July, Turkey said it will suspend its oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean,.
The US- Geological Survey estimated in a 2010 report that “1.7bn barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 122trn cubic feet of recoverable gas lie in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Levant Basin Province.”