Amid heightened tensions, Greek military sources have told Kathimerini that if cables of the Turkish Oruc Reis seismic research vessel touch the Greek continental shelf, Turkey will have the “complete and exclusive” responsibility for what will follow.
The warning was issued in the wake of a Turkish Navtex this week that reserved areas within the Greek continental shelf for seismic surveys by the Oruc Reis.
The same sources said that Greece’s armed forces have entered a state of increased readiness in response to Ankara’s decision to dispatch two-thirds of the Turkish Fleet to the Aegean.
They also noted that the Navtex was issued shortly after the 46th anniversary of the first phase of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus and at a time when the Greece-Turkey Confidence Building Measures are supposed to be still in force. What’s more, it was only a few weeks ago when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to keep channels of communication open.
According to the representative of the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, “Greece’s reaction was excessive” when the Navtex was issued for the Oruc Reis.
Meanwhile, Berlin is assuming an active role to de-escalate the situation, with Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer stressing on Thursday that Germany enjoys the trust of both Greece and Turkey to have an influence.
“It is no coincidence that the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) in particular intervened or was called upon to intervene,” she said referring to the telephone calls Merkel reportedly made earlier this week to Mitsotakis and Erdogan when reports proliferated that a military conflict was edging nearer.
For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus after meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades.
“I want to reiterate France’s full solidarity with Cyprus, but also with Greece, in the face of Turkey’s violation of their sovereignty,” said Macron, who insisted it would be a serious mistake for the European Union to leave the security of the Eastern Mediterranean in the hands of other actors and mainly Turkey. Macron posted the statement on his Facebook page in Greek.
Mitsotakis on Thursday held meetings with party leaders to brief them on this week’s European Council meeting and developments with Turkey. On Wednesday, Aexis Tsipras, the leader of leftist opposition SYRIZA, called for a meeting of the country’s top decision-making body on foreign affairs and defense matters, KYSEA.