Greece Rallies Friends and Allies as it Requests Emergency EU Meeting Over Turkish Aggression



THe Turkish vessel Oruc Reis is escorted into Greek waters by five Turkish Navy vessels on Monday, August 10. Photo: Turkish Defense Ministry

Greece requested the European Union on Tuesday to hold an emergency meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers over Turkey’s continuous aggression in the southern Aegean and East Mediterranean Sea.

The decision was announced after a meeting of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

Tensions between Athens and Ankara escalated on Monday after Turkey sent the seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis south of the island of Kastellorizo atop the Greek continental shelf.

At the same time, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced on Tuesday that Turkey will issue seismic exploration and drilling licenses in new areas of the Mediterranean by the end of August and continue its operations in the region.

The situation is “extremely worrying and needs to be solved in a dialogue,” a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

On Tuesday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met with American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt in Athens about the ongoing situation in the Mediterranean. Ambassador Pyatt posted two messages on Twitter after the meeting.

The first message read: “Reaffirmed US support for Greece-Turkey dialogue and commitment to resource development in E. Med that promotes cooperation and provides foundation for durable energy security and economic prosperity.
His followup Tweet read “As a matter of principle, we encourage all states to resolve  maritime delimitation issues  peacefully in accordance with international law – avoiding any actions that could further heighten distrust.”
Also on Tuesday, European Commission Foreign Affairs spokesperson Peter Stano expressed the Union’s total support for Greece and Cyprus at a regularly-scheduled press briefing.
“EU is with total solidarity by Greece and Cyprus’s side and there is no question on this” he underscored.
Stano characterized the condition in the Eastern Mediterranean as “extremely worrying,” noting that it should be resolved with dialogue and not by a series of steps that increase the tension, saying “The developments showed that much more needs to be done to reduce the tension and to reverse the… unfortunate escalation.”
He also reiterated that EU High Commissioner Josep Borel’s Sunday statement on the Eastern Mediterranean had been very clear. He underscored that the recent developments will not contribute to finding any solutions, but rather will lead to a greater antagonism and distrust.
“What is needed to be done is to engage in solving all the open issues in line with principles of good neighborly relations, international law and positive engagement,” Stano concluded.
In a statement released on Monday, the US State Department voiced its condemnation of Turkey’s most recent actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The statement read “The United States is aware that Turkey has issued a notification to other ships of survey activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. We urge Turkish authorities to halt any such plans for operations and to and to avoid steps that raise tensions in the region.”