Turkey Defies Warning, Insists on Drilling in Greek Waters

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Turkey has defied Greece’s warning to cancel its planned drilling for hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean, close to Greek islands, claiming that exploration will take place on its own continental shelf.

“The new license areas that Turkish Petroleum applied for, regarding the exploration and drilling activities, lie within Turkish continental shelf as declared to the UN,” Hami Aksoy, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara said on Tuesday.

“Turkey will be resolutely continuing to exercise its sovereign rights over the area that we repeatedly announced,” he added.

Turkey announced on Friday that it plans to start drilling in the eastern Mediterranean in three or four months.

The move comes after Ankara signed an agreement last year with Libya’s government in Tripoli, which claimed extensive areas of the sea for Turkey. The agreement has been condemned as illegal and void by Athens and a host of other countries.

It is clear that Ankara is using the dubious deal to challenge Greek sovereignty, standing by its position that the Greek islands cannot claim control over the country’s own continental shelf, just six nautical miles of territorial waters.

Athens summons Turkey’s ambassador

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement on Monday that the Turkish request to carry out “petroleum explorations in the region of the Greek continental shelf is part of a series of actions to by the neighbouring country which is gradually trying to usurp the sovereign rights of Greece.”

“Turkey’s illegal actions… cannot match Greek sovereignty based on international law and maritime law,” said Dendias, adding that Greece “is prepared to face this new provocation, if Turkey finally puts it into effect.”

The Greek government summoned the Turkish Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Monday evening.