On Tuesday night, the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis and its entourage, which include Turkish warships, changed direction and sailed in a southeasterly direction within the Greek continental shelf area, according to the Athens Macedonian News Agency. The Greek armed forces are monitoring their movements.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that his country would issue gas exploration and drilling licenses in the eastern Mediterranean by the end of August following the Oruc Reis, sent on Monday to explore off the coast of Kastellorizo.
The same vessel had abandoned the area last month amid international criticism, followed by a brief period of calm which had been brokered by Germany. Ankara, however, vowed to continue surveying within Greece’s EEZ after Greece signed a deal with Egypt last week.
Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias has already requested an extraordinary meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, he said following a meeting he had with Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday.
Mr Dentias said in a statement that the meeting should focus on Turkey’s expanding aggression and illegal behavior, while he also called on Turkey to withdraw from the Greek continental shelf.
The request for the EU meeting comes “at a time of a clear Turkish threat to peace and stability in the East Mediterranean, Greece and Cyprus,” Mr Dendias said, “despite Greece’s adherence to talks on the basis of International Law and the Law of the Sea.”
Turkey proved that its so-called readiness for talks were “insincere and pretentious,” he stressed, while he accused the neighboring country of “turning away from modern ideas underpinning states of the 21st century.” He further accused Turkey of applying a policy of military threat and of persisting in its destabilising role.
The Greek Defence Council met on Tuesday evening under the leadership of Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos in order to assess the situation in the region and review tactical issues and future actions over Turkish provocations.
On its part, Turkey claims Greek waters as its own. Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun tweeted “Every drop of our homeland is sacred” whereas Turkish naval commanders have called for Ankara to adopt a more muscular approach around Greek islands surrounded by waters belonging to Greece according to a United Nations accord.