Greece has been placed on high alert in response to Turkey’s move to issue a Navtex reserving a large part of the Greek continental shelf south of the island of Kastellorizo for seismic surveys by the Oruc Reis research vessel until August 2.
Turkey’s plan is seen in Athens as a dangerous escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean, prompting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to warn that European Union sanctions could follow if Ankara continues to challenge Greek sovereignty.
“The imposition of sanctions by the EU against Turkey will be a one-way street. It is up to Turkey to choose what relationship it wants to have with Greece, with Cyprus, with Europe. But I think at the moment it seems to be choosing the wrong path,” he said as he received visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the Maximos Mansion.
He added that “Greece is following all developments with absolute readiness,” stressing that “questioning the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus is questioning the sovereign rights of Europe.”
In a statement, the Greek Foreign Ministry said the “illegal Turkish Navtex is escalating tensions in the region” and demonstrates Ankara’s “absolute contempt for international law and the Law of the Sea,” as well as the dictates of good neighborly relations.
Moreover, the ministry said that the Greek Embassy in Ankara has already filed a complaint with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that Greece has already raised the issue with the EU, NATO, the United Nations and the capitals of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
“We call on Turkey to immediately end its illegal actions that violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the area,” the ministry’s statement read.
For his part Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a defiant tone, insisting that the country does “not need anyone’s permission for our seismic vessels and floating drilling rigs.” He added that Turkey is acting within the framework of Law of the Sea and “will continue in the same way.”
Meanwhile, Mitsotakis met with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and was briefed over the telephone by Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and the chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Konstantinos Floros, who cut short a visit to Cyprus.