The limits of Greece’s continental shelf have been disputed by Turkey with a series of navigational telexes (navtexes) that ignore the southeastern Aegean island of Kastellorizo, implying that it has no significance when it comes to delineating maritime regions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
More specifically, Ankara has issued five navtexes (1153/18, 1154/18, 1155/18, 1156/18 and 1157/18) reserving a sea area for naval exercises stretching from Fethiye in southwestern Turkey, south to the island of Kasos and east from there to south of Antalya.
Turkey’s navtexes are legal as they reserve areas in international waters.
Nonetheless, they essentially reiterate Turkish claims in the Eastern Mediterranean, as Kastellorizo is cut off from the rest of the Dodecanese chain of islands – basically disputing what Greece says is the eastern edge of its continental shelf and its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Practically speaking, with its stance toward Kastellorizo, Ankara is rejecting Greece’s Eastern Mediterranean policy of which Kastellorizo is a key component.
The latest developments coincide with energy projects unfolding around Cyprus.
On Monday, the French-Italian energy consortium Total/Eni submitted a request to Cypriot authorities to explore for gas in Block 7 of the island’s EEZ.
The same consortium is already drilling in nearby Block 6 while ENI has a license for Block 8.
Ankara has objected to Nicosia’s energy plans in the region, saying they infringe upon Turkey’s continental shelf and that the rights of Turkish Cypriots are being ignored.
In remarks to CNN Turk, Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci referred to the blockade last February by Turkish warships of Block 3 of Cyprus’s EEZ, preventing the approach of drillships.
“We can’t obstruct them forever. So what must we do? Begin our own drilling,” Akinci said, adding that “Turkey will drill in its own areas and ours on our behalf.”
On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated to Cypriot paper Politis that Ankara is not against drilling but against what he described as unilateral actions by Greek Cypriots.