NEWS

French backing for exploration activities east of Crete

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Paris has reportedly sent messages of support to Athens over Turkey’s harassment of the Nautical Geo research ship of French interests which is conducting exploratory activities for a possible route of the EastMed pipeline on behalf of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

The Turkish fleet has been trying to prevent these exploratory activities over the past 10 days in the area east of Crete that Ankara considers illegal based on the Turkey-Libya maritime memorandum. 

According to sources, the French believe that the sudden escalation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is linked to the need to emphasize his nationalist credentials for domestic consumption.

Erdogan appears to be under a lot of pressure as the economy continues to plummet, while his attempted openings on the international front are either failing, as was the case with US President Joe Biden or getting more complicated like its relations with Russia, most notably in northern Syria.

Meanwhile on Friday, the Nautical Geo returned to the port of Iraklio on Crete for refuelling while in the wider area a unit of the Greek navy remained on standby.

After the temporary departure of the Nautical Geo from the area, the Turkish frigate that was in the east of Crete also sailed away.

However, as the Turks expect the Nautical Geo to soon return, the frigate moved only 20 nautical miles south of Crete, it too on standby.

According to the current Greek Navtex, the Nautical Geo can conduct research until Sunday, September 26.

Messages of support for Greece have also come from Israel, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri to his Greek and Cypriot counterparts Nikos Dendias and Nikos Christodoulidis during their meeting on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly.

Diplomatic sources said that Shoukri said there is no prospect of normalization of relations with Turkey as long as it continues its aggressive behavior towards Greece and Cyprus.