President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues his provocative activities in the East Mediterranean and said on Thursday that Turkey would start granting licenses for exploration and drilling in the eastern Mediterranean in 2020, in accord with a maritime agreement with Libya.
He added that vessel Oruc Reis would begin seismic activities in the region.
At the same time, his foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, reiterated ankara’s long-standing claims on the existence of “grey zones” in the Aegean Sea.
In an interview with CNN Turk, he claimed that “there are islands whose sovereignty has not been established” either in the Treaty of Lausanne or in the 1947 Paris Peace Treaty.
This is the reason that Ankara is calling for “exploratory talks to resolve these issues” and to avoid a repetition of a crisis like the one over the islets of Imia (known as Kardak in Turkish) in 1996 when the two NATO members came to the brink of a war over the ownership of the two uninhabited islets.
He claimed that Crete and islands in general have territorial waters of 6 nautical miles.
Cavusoblu claimed further that the Greek-Cypriot-Israeli pipeline project EastMed would cross area of the Turkish continental shelf and that therefore the constructors “will have to ask for our permission.”
“Without Turkey’s approval, this project cannot happen,” he added.
The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying:
The legal status of the Aegean and the islands is clearly defined by international treaties and there is no dispute.
The continued repetition of arbitrary claims or interpretations of International Maritime Law does not alter their non-existent or unlawful character.
Greece has chosen the path of international legitimacy. We hope Turkey will follow it too.
PS It is worth noting that Erdogan said also that Turkey is beginning to send troops into Libya in support of the internationally recognized government in Tripoli. The Libya Conference in Berlin on Sunday will surely be a …success.