The Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) on Thursday denied Turkish media reports that a Greek warship was intercepted by Turkish naval forces near the Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa seismic survey vessel.
According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, a Greek frigate attempted to “harass” the Turkish vessel, which is surveying in the Eastern Mediterranean.
CNN Turk reported that Ankara was dispatching reinforcements in the area.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had earlier Thursday warned Athens to avoid “escalating the tension.”
Its statement appeared to be a response to a Greek Foreign Ministry late Wednesday slamming a navigational telex (NAVTEX) issued by Ankara to announce that Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa would be operating in a segment of the Greek continental shelf.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the Greek statement was “totally baseless” with respect to international law.
“Greece’s insistence on non-realistic claims will as a result damage bilateral ties and stability in the region,” it said. “Turkey will continue to exercise the sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the continental shelf on the basis of international law.”
Sources in GEETHA said that Turkish media were trying to stoke tension “because they cannot accept that the area is part of Greek territory.”
The reports came against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Cyprus and Turkey over gas rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Earlier this week Washington urged Turkey to refrain from actions that could further exacerbate tension in the area.