Athens lodged an official complaint with Ankara on Wednesday after a Turkish research vessel entered the area between the islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo in the southern Aegean, encroaching upon Greece’s continental shelf, whose boundaries are disputed by Turkey.
According to diplomatic sources in Athens, the Bilim 2 research vessel entered the area between the two islands without first informing Greek authorities of its plans to conduct oceanographic surveys. Although the move itself did not constitute a challenge to Greece’s territorial rights, the fact that Turkish authorities failed to formally alert their Greek counterparts of their plans was deemed by Athens as adequate reason to complain, particularly as it came just a few days after senior Turkish officials said they would avoid any actions that could fuel tensions between the two countries.
Wednesday’s development also came just over a week after Turkey challenged Greece’s sovereign rights south of Rhodes and Kastellorizo and the right of the Aegean islands to a continental shelf, claiming that the Aegean should be treated as a special case as the islands are so close to the Turkish coast. Turkey’s note verbale to the United Nations was sent in response to a diplomatic message sent to the international organization by Greece last month.