Turkey continued to ramp up tensions in the Aegean on Tuesday as the Oruc Reis seismic research vessel remained atop Greece’s continental shelf, accompanied by Turkish Navy vessels, despite continual warnings from the ships of the Greek Navy nearby.
While the Greek armed forces remain on full alert, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is briefing political leaders and President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on the situation today.
The Greek Foreign Ministry called Turkey‘s act a “new, serious escalation” and accused the country of destabilizing peace in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Turkish Foreign Ministry official Cagatay Erciyes posted a Tweet which stated the “Oruc Reis launched its off-shore survey activity today in the Turkish Continental Shelf declared to UN. Greece makes a big fuss over this activity, claiming that the survey area belongs to Greece.”
In the Tweet, Erciyes says that the 10 square km (3.86 square mile) Kastellorizo archipelago claims 40,000 square km (15,444 square miles) of continental shelf, thus limiting Turkey to its own shores for oil and gas exploration.
The tweet is accompanied by a Turkish map marking the Oruc Reis research area as being inside that country’s territorial waters. The map also disputes last week’s Egypt-Greece maritime boundary agreement, terming it “So called.”
The Greek Prime Minister communicated with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stating his view that the “policy of equal distances” between the allied countries is counterproductive and not acceptable.
After communicating with Mitsotakis, the NATO chief wrote on Twitter: “The situation must be resolved in a spirit of Allied solidarity and in accordance with international law.”
Dendias: No Fait Accompli
Also on Tuesday, Greek Foreign Minister declared that his country will not accept another fait accompli, while calling on Turkey’s government to remove the Oruc Reis from where it is now, halfway between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus.
After remarking that Turkey was engaging in gunboat diplomacy, Nikos Dendias stated “We will not accept a fait accompli, there will be no tolerance. Greece will defend its (territorial) integrity and sovereign rights,” adding “we call on Turkey to leave the Greek continental shelf immediately.”
Meanwhile, the Oruc Reis was observed throwing cables into the sea, which is a preparatory process before actual sonic research begins.
Greek Navy warships are following the Turkish fleet accompanying the Oruc Reis in order to monitor and record their movements. The Turkish warships are attempting to create a protective barrier around the Oruc Reis as they sail in international waters, in an area southeast of the Greek mainland, with an average speed of less than five knots.