Turkey’s recent activity near the Evros land border with Greece and the course on Friday of its Oruc Reis research vessel in the Aegean, accompanied by two support ships and a frigate, sailing up to 50 nautical miles southeast of Kastellorizo, is viewed in Athens as another example of Ankara’s bid to test its resolve.
Moreover, according to the Navigational Telex 0114/20 issued by the Antalya Hydrographic Station, the Oruc Reis was to survey an area containing blocks 4 and 5 of Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but on Friday, it sailed up to 100 nautical miles west of Cyprus.
The research vessel’s moves are being closely monitored by Athens due to concerns it may cause an incident during a period when Greece is distracted by the battle to contain the coronavirus.
Athens is also keeping tabs on the situation at the Evros border, wary of the possibility of another attempt by migrants, with the backing of Turkey, to break through Greece’s defenses and enter the country.
Greece’s concerns have been further fueled because, despite reports of the gradual dismantling of migrant camps set up on the Turkish side, no evidence of this can be seen from the Greek side of the border.
More specifically, the information provided by Turkey regarding the organized return of migrants and refugees on the Turkish side to Istanbul has yet to be confirmed by Greece.
Ankara had closed the border with Greece earlier in the week to stop the spread of the coronavirus into Turkey.
With this in mind, Greek authorities remain on alert, as it was only as recently as Wednesday morning that some 350 migrants tried to cross the border, with the help of Turkish forces.
There is also the added concern that a mass breach of the border could further spread the coronavirus in Greece.
Meanwhile, in light of the measures for the coronavirus, Greece has opened diplomatic channels with other neighboring states (Albania, North Macedonia), with the aim of coordinating moves so that, despite the bans, there will be no problem in trade and the transportation of goods.