A German research vessel has reportedly received permission from Turkey to operate in an area between Cyprus and Crete, renewing tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkish newspaper Milliyet on Tuesday claimed the RV Maria S. Merian, a cutting-edge ship, received the navigational telex (NAVTEX) from Ankara implying that the seas in that area are under Turkish sovereignty.
A similar NAVTEX was issued for another German ship, RV Meteor, in late December last year, prompting a spat with Athens.
The news follows a warning from French President Emmanuel Macron to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to respect Cyprus’ sovereignty.
Turkish warships have been involved in recent stand-offs in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) with European energy firms, particularly Italy’s ENI, in areas it claims it has sovereignty or is maintaining the maritime sovereignty of the unrecognized northern Cypriot state.
The EU has also come to the defense of Greece and Cyprus following what European Council President Donald Tusk described as “Turkey’s illegal violations in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the Aegean”.