Greek Navy on Alert as Turkey Extends Gas Exploration South of Rhodes



Credit: Hellenic National Defense Staff

Greece’s naval forces are on high alert after Turkey’s decision on Saturday to instruct the exploration vessel Oruc Reis to continue surveying for energy reserves in a location south of the Greek island of Rhodes until November 4.

This is an extension of the current Turkish navigation warning, or Navtex, which is set to expire October 27.

The Hellenic National Defense Staff has released a series of photographs showing Greek naval vessels sailing across the southeastern Aegean, sending the message that Athens will not allow Turkey to proceed with its new provocation.

According to the latest Turkish Navtex, the Oruc Reis would conduct research missions for hydrocarbon reserves south of the Greek island of Rhodes, and north of Kastellorizo, another Greek island.

In response to the Navtex, issued late Saturday night, Greece issued its own, arguing that Turkey’s order was illegal, since it involved activities in Greek waters.

Credit: Hellenic National Defense Staff

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias issued a formal call for the EU and Greece’s allies to be notified of Turkey’s most recent provocation.

The Foreign Ministry released a statement regarding the act, calling the country’s actions those of a “pariah state that aims to destabilize the region and dramatically increase tensions,” with a “complete disregard for the fundamental rules of international law.”

On Friday, Turkey and Greece mutually agreed to end their scheduled military exercises, or “war games,” in a meeting facilitated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The two countries pledged then to cancel their planned military exercises, which were to have occurred on their respective national holidays.

Just hours later, however, Turkey announced that it would follow through with the military exercises on Greece’s OXI Day, breaking the deal with NATO.

This comes after months of provocations in the region over the sea borders of Greece and Turkey, with Turkey repeatedly conducting energy exploration missions in Greek waters.

Turkey has claimed that the maritime territory in the region is unfairly divided, and that certain Greek islands, such as Kastellorizo, should be Turkish due to their proximity to the country.