In what is seen as part of a concerted effort by Ankara to entrench its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey issued a navigational telex Thursday reserving a sea area within its territorial waters north of Cyprus for drilling activities until mid-June.
At the same time, Turkey is maintaining its presence around Cyprus, with the Fatih drillship in the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the Barbaros research vessel south of the city of Limassol.
Another drillship, the Yavuz, is currently stationed in the Sea of Marmara. If it is also deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean, it will become the third Turkish vessel with a presence in the area.
Meanwhile, tensions rose again over the southeastern Aegean Thursday after Turkish jets violated Greek national airspace as Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis attended a ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of a Greek army captain on the island of Karpathos.
At the same time, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that the rights of the Muslim minority in Thrace, northeastern Greece – whom he referred to as “Turks” – and of Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus are being violated.
The same view regarding the ethnic identity of Thrace’s Muslim minority is espoused by the Friendship, Equality and Peace Party (FEP), which ranked first in the Greek provinces of Rhodopi and Xanthi in Sunday’s European Parliament elections.
In comments to the Anadolu Agency before the elections, the party’s leader, Cigdem Asafoglu, said that each vote cast for FEP would “send a strong message against the Greek government’s policies toward the Turkish minority.”