Athens lodges demarche with Ankara


Athens Thursday lodged a carefully worded demarche with Turkey over its plans for hydrographic surveys between the Greek islands of Limnos, Skyros and Alonnisos until March 2.

The navigational advisory concerns international waters, but Athens has denounced it as invalid and illegal as, according to the ministry’s spokesperson, Alexandros Papaioannou, the Izmir station does not have the authority to issue Navtexes for the area in question.

Officials in Ankara said recently that the surveys by the Cesme vessel will be restricted to the surface of the sea, as the vessel will not lay its cables on the seabed.

There is no question of a substantial breach by the Cesme’s voyage, but the move is seen in Athens as a clear indication of Ankara’s inability to function as a reliable factor that can contribute to stability in the region.

The Cesme left the Dardanelles region Thursday afternoon for the area that has been committed for research until March 2.

Athens is moving so as not to escalate matters as it is absolutely clear that at this stage Turkey’s actions are geared toward its domestic audience. 

At the same time, although there is no news regarding the date of the 62nd round of exploratory contacts, Papaioannou said it will take place shortly after March 3.

Meanwhile Papaioannou announced Thursday that the informal five-party conference on the Cyprus issue will be postponed until April.

The postponement is due to a number of factors, not least the pandemic, but also due to repeated declarations by Ankara that any agreement on the Cyprus issue should be based on a two-state solution, essentially scrapping the premise of a bicommunal federation which has formed the accepted basis of negotiations over more than 40 years.