Athens: Greece has issued a stern warning to Turkey and said, ‘The ship Turkey has sent to the Greek waters, will disrupt the peace and stability in the Mediterranean Sea region.’ The Greek government also said that ‘Turkey’s actions are a fresh provocation and we make clear that Greece will defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights.’ On the other hand, Turkey has hit back at Greece saying, ‘The agreement that was signed last week between Greece and Egypt is in vain. The 80 million citizens of Turkey back its operation.’ Both Greece and Turkey are NATO members, although the EU has indicated offering its support to Greece, which will likely worsen the tensions in the Mediterranean Sea.
On Sunday, Turkey issued a Navtex Alert and announced sending the research ship ‘Oruc Reis’ along with two other vessels to the Mediterranean Sea for study. The announcement invited a severe reaction from Greece. ‘Turkey must immediately stop the illegal activities that threaten maritime peace and stability in the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey’s operation is a new and serious provocation. Also, it demonstrates Turkey’s role in destabilizing the region. Greece will not be a victim to any blackmail and is prepared to defend its sovereignty and rights,’ lambasted Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
Greece held a meeting of the National Security Council and the heads of its armed forces, instructing them to remain on high alert. Three Turkish ships are near the maritime territory, south of the Greek Kastellorizo Island while the Greek warships have begun patrolling the region. Even Turkey is said to have deployed its warships in the area. Moreover, sources informed that Greece had discussed the inciting Turkish activities with the EU and NATO.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on both nations, Turkey and Greece, to find a solution through dialogue, keeping in mind the international laws and cooperation between them as members of NATO. Also, Germany, which is currently the President of Council of the European Union (EU), has fired a salvo of criticism at the Turkish operation. The country warned Turkey that drilling expedition in the present situation sends out the wrong message. A severe reaction emerged from Turkey over the statement. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that no one must make the mistake of ignoring a powerful nation like Turkey. Contrarily, Turkish Foreign Ministry retorted saying Greece was responsible for the prevalent tensions.
International surveys and reports have concluded that the Mediterranean Sea holds vast reserves of oil and gas. The reserves lay within the maritime boundaries of Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. However, Turkey has begun movements to extend its control to more and more of these regions. Turkey has even made sovereignty claims over areas that belong to Greece and Cyprus. To strengthen its claims, Turkey had also signed a deal with Libya last year, but it had drawn severe reaction from the international community.
So as to counter the Turkish activities, Greece has sought support from Israel, Egypt and the EU. In a conference that was held this January, Israel, Cyprus and Greece signed a deal called the EastMed gas pipeline project. The $6.86 billion project, which involves the construction of a 1900 long natural gas pipeline extending from Leviathan Basin in the Israeli waters to Greece. The survey for the oil pipeline that will be built at the seabed is already underway, and European companies will be participating in it. After that, Greece signed a deal with Egypt over an exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea last week.
The vessel Turkey sent near the Greek Island on Monday, and the maritime operation that followed is believed to be an attempt to protest this deal. Nevertheless, Turkey has rebuffed appeals from the EU and international community even in the past and carried out operations in the region with ships and warships. The objective behind the actions is said to be an attempt to fulfil President Erdogan’s ambitions for dominating the area. The tensions in the Mediterranean Sea region are thus believed will increasingly intensify soon.