NEWS

As standoff with Turkey continues, Athens asks for emergency meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Council

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As Ankara continued to escalate tensions on Tuesday, with successive statements by Turkish officials announcing the continuation of exploratory activities by the Oruc Reis survey vessel, as well as new ones in areas of the Greek continental shelf, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias declared that Greece will not accept a fait accompli in the Eastern Mediterranean and called on the Turkish government to recall its research ship from the area.

“We will not accept a fait accompli, there will be no tolerance. Greece will defend its [territorial] integrity and sovereign rights,” Dendias said in a statement, adding that Ankara was proving it prefers gunboat diplomacy to an honest dialogue. “We call on Turkey to leave the Greek continental shelf immediately,” he added.

Dendias also said he had asked for an emergency meeting of the European Union Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the issue.

Until late Tuesday afternoon and while the Oruc Reis, accompanied by nine Turkish Navy ships, continued its course almost throughout the area that has been reserved in a Turkish navigational telex, the Greek response beyond the field of diplomacy was the general mobilization of both the Hellenic Navy as well as the entire Armed Forces – not only in the disputed area southeast of Crete where the Turkish research was sailing, but also throughout the Aegean, as information reported that other units of the Turkish Armed Forces were active. 

For its part, the Turkish side Tuesday insisted that the Oruc Reis and the accompanying vessels are moving within the Turkish continental shelf, and called on the Greek forces to leave. 

Furthermore, according to reports, there were 45 violations of Greek national airspace over the Aegean by the Turkish Air Force Tuesday and three engagements with Greek jets. Moreover, there was unconfirmed information during the day about the movement of vessels of the Turkish fleet in various areas of the Aegean. 

European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano expressed the EU’s “full solidarity” with both Greece and Cyprus.

“We agree that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is extremely worrying and needs to be solved in dialogue and not in a series and sequence of steps that are increasing the escalation and the tension,” he told journalists.

At the same time, Turkish officials insisted Tuesday that the exploratory activities near the island of Kastellorizo will continue and others will follow in areas including those designated in the Turkey-Libya maritime border accord, which Athens says is null and void. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu noted that Turkey will proceed with new exploratory activities, saying Ankara’s permits to begin these activities are expected by the end of August.