NEWS

Athens on high alert after new Turkish navtex

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Athens is on full alert for Turkey’s next move in the East Mediterranean, as Ankara issued a new navtex on Monday for the continuation of survey activities of its Oruc Reis vessel until September 12.

The navtex followed a declaration by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the Oruc Reis will continue its activities and that Turkey won’t tolerate “piracy” in the Aegean and East Med.

Erdogan’s latest rant followed a barrage of aggressive Turkish rhetoric against Greece following the publication of a photograph showing Greek military personnel being replaced on Kastellorizo. The photo prompted Turkey’s foreign ministry to renew the country’s call for a demilitarization of Greek islands in the Aegean.

Meanwhile on Monday, EU High Representative Foreign Minister Josep Borrell spoke on the phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, briefing him on the outcome of the discussion at the informal EU Foreign Ministers’ meeting last week and on the moves the EU is now awaiting  from Turkey to de-escalate tension and resume dialogue.  

He presented to the Turkish minister the measures that the EU intends to take if Ankara insists on its “unilateral” actions, which have “caused concern throughout the EU.” He also called on Greece and Turkey to refrain from exchanging messages through the media and to start a “serious and honest dialogue.”

The crisis in the region was also one of the main topics of discussion at Monday night’s meeting between European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

At the same time, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that Turkish violations of the territorial waters of EU member-states Greece and Cyprus are “completely unacceptable” and Europe needs to “leave the age of innocence behind and shape its own destiny.”

 Europe, he told a meeting in Paris that was also attended by his German counterpart Heiko Maas, has a duty to “respond collectively” when one of its members is facing a policy that is “aggressive and unjustified” and poses a “threat against the Union’s sovereignty and interests.”

Also Monday, information circulated that the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle will sail again to the Eastern Mediterranean after comments by French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly that measures were being taken to protect the vessel crews from the coronavirus, so that it can soon continue its missions.