Turkish survey ship puts Greece on alert.
Image Credit: Getty Images
On Monday, Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsokatis held an urgent meeting with military chiefs, after Turkey issued a navtex (an international maritime alert).
Turkey sent the ship, Oruc Reis to the south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, to conduct a seismic survey. The area is disputed between Greece and Turkey, and challenges the Greek- Egyptian gas exploration deal.
There are also disputes around Cyprus over exploration rights. The Republic of Cyprus and Greece do not accept the rights for oil and gas exploration in Northern Cyprus, a region which is defended by Turkey. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not internationally recognized. Regardless of this, Turkey sent two drilling ships last year, to waters of Cyprus.
The Greek foreign Ministry immediately said that this is a serious escalation of the situation. The seismic survey mission had to occur last month, but due to international pressure Turkey suspended it.
Oruc Reis was accompanied by five Turkish military navy vessels. The Turkish Defense Ministry said, ‘The Turkish Armed Forces has taken all the necessary measures..to protect our rights and interests under international law in the maritime zones under our jurisdiction.’
Oruc Reis accompanied by five Turkish military navy vessels. Image Credit: Turkish Defense Ministry.
Oruc Reis did not conduct the seismic survey once it reached its destination, due to a number of Greek navy ships that appeared in the vicinity. The Greek Navy ships produced noise that interfered with the sound signals that Oruc Reis sent in the area to conduct the seismic survey. For this reason, the survey was eventually stopped.
Last Thursday, Greece and Egypt signed an agreement on the creation of an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in zones that contain oil and gas. Turkey rejects the maritime deal between the two countries. Read more about this here:
The Greek-Egyptian deal conflicts with the Turkish-Libyan (international recognized government) EEZ deal.
The Republic of Cyprus also have an EEZ agreement with Lebanon, Egypt and Israel. The agreement is about oil and gas exploration in the EEZ zones.
The NATO secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met the Greek premier and urged respect for international law.
After the meeting with the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Stoltenberg tweeted, ‘The situation must be resolved in a spirit of Allied solidarity and in accordance with international law.’