Greece denounces as ‘illegal’ Turkey’s extension of survey mission in Mediterranean Sea
Greece has condemned Turkey’s decision to once again extend the work of its seismic research vessel in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, vowing to lodge a complaint against Ankara.
In a statement on Sunday, Greece’s Foreign Ministry denounced Turkey’s move as “illegal”, adding that the move is at odds with international efforts to ease tensions between the two sides.
"Greece blatantly condemns this unacceptable behavior, which is essentially moving even further away from the prospect of a constructive dialogue," the ministry said.
The remarks came after the Turkish navy said in a NAVTEX maritime announcement late on Saturday that the Oruc Reis seismic research vessel and warships escorting it would remain in a location south of the Greek island of Rhodes until Nov. 4.
A previous notice scheduled survey work in the area until Oct. 27.
In a counter-message on NAVTEX, Greece deemed Turkey’s activity as "unauthorized and illegal”, which it said was in an area within the Greek continental shelf.
It further called for the advisory to be revoked immediately.
Also on Sunday, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas condemned the move, saying it is "one more proof of Turkey's lack of credibility even towards NATO."
Turkey and Greece, both of them NATO members, have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Back in August, Turkey dispatched the seismic research vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by naval vessels, off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, where Turkey disputes Greek maritime rights. Greece responded by sending its own military vessels to monitor the situation.
Turkey ended the mission of Oruc Reis and ordered it back to shore for maintenance in mid-September. Ankara said the move was also meant to give diplomacy a chance.
The European Union (EU), which fully backs Greece, has threatened Turkey with sanctions if Ankara continues with its exploration in the disputed waters.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed dismay at the “unconstructive” threat, saying that the bloc has “succumbed to pressure and blackmail” from Greece.
Greece says Turkey is violating international law by prospecting for energy in “Greek waters,” including near the island of Kastellorizo.
Turkey, for its part, says that it is within its rights in the waters, insisting that the small island of Kastellorizo should not be a reason for the imposition of Greek sovereignty on nearby waters.