Athens/Istanbul: Greece and Turkey have announced holding separate naval drills amid tensions over oil and gas reserves in the Mediterranean Sea. On Monday, Turkey declared extending its maritime research operations by a few days. In reply to the Turkish statement, Greece declared organizing a naval exercise. However, Turkey counter-reacted by warning to hold drills as well. Analysts believe that conflict may flare off in the Mediterranean Sea since both nations are to conduct their naval exercise at the same time in the region.
A few days ago, Turkey had made a unilateral announcement by issuing the Navtex Alert and sending its research vessel Oruc Reis and two auxiliary ships near Greek Island of Kastellorizo. A severe reaction had emerged from the European nations and NATO, along with Greece. Further, Greece issued a high alert for its forces initiating surveillance of Turkey’s activities. Right after, the country even participated in a joint naval exercise with France in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, President Erdogan’s latest announcement makes evident that neither Greece’s actions nor the support it is receiving from the EU have had an impact on Turkey.
On Saturday, as he announced the discovery of 320 billion cubic meters of natural gas, President Erdogan warned of sending an additional ship as also expanding search and drilling activities in the Mediterranean Sea. By extending the operations of the Oruc Reis by a few days, the Turkish President appears to have materialized his threats, to which Greece reacted strongly.
Greece announced holding naval drills near the Crete Islands within hours of Erdogan’s announcement of extending operations. As the region is close to waters over which Turkey lays claims, Erdogan was angered and threatened Greece once again. President Erdogan said that Greece was sowing the seeds for anarchy and would be responsible for any future conflicts in the region.
As a result, the situation in the Mediterranean Sea is escalating due to the Turkey-Greece tensions while the EU and NATO find the developments highly concerning. Germany, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Council, has offered to broker talks between Germany and Turkey after both the nations sent each other warnings of drills in the region. Also, sources informed that on Thursday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrived in Greece and was to pay a visit to Turkey next.