NEWS

Turkey tensions spark diplomatic frenzy

VASSILIS NEDOS

TAGS: Turkey, Defense

The tension following Turkey’s announcement that it plans to conduct seismic research in parts of the Greek continental shelf and the military mobilization that this triggered in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, prompted the intervention of Berlin, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel telephoning Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as early as Tuesday night, calling for a de-escalation.

Mitsotakis also spoke on Wednesday afternoon with the Russian President Vladimir Putin about the escalating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the issue of Turkey’s conversion of the former Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Regarding Merkel’s intervention, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christopher Burger said that Berlin wants a “prudent dialogue,” while noting that “progress in EU-Turkey relations is only possible if Turkey abandons provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

He added that Germany’s position in principle on drilling, the issue of maritime borders and the exploitation of natural resources in the East Mediterranean, is known.

Athens, in the meantime, remained skeptical on Wednesday about reports in the German media, and mainly Bild, that Merkel’s intervention stopped the outbreak of a Greek-Turkish war at the 11th hour.

Meanwhile, the situation “remained unchanged” in the sea region south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Wednesday after Turkey issued its Navtex on Tuesday for seismic research activities in the area, according to a source from the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA).

The source said the movements of the Turkish navy are being monitored by the Greek navy and air force, which are also keeping an eye on the Turkish research ship Oruc Reis which has been tasked to conduct the seismic activities.

According to reports, it remained outside the port of Antalya, where it has been anchored in recent months. Greece believes the next couple of days will be pivotal regarding the movement of the Oruc Reis.

For its part, Turkey on Wednesday made clear its determination to defend its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, “as they arise under international law,” it said in a statement issued after the end of a National Security Council meeting chaired by Erdogan.

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