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Turkey deploys Oruc Reis near Kastellorizo, escalates tension with Greece

Turkey is sending seismic vessel Oruc Reis again for survey in the Greek continental shelf, a move that reignites tensions between Ankara and Athens but with the European Union.
Late Sunday night, Turkey issued a navigation warning, NAVTEX, for October 12-22, saying that the Oruc Reis will carry activities in the region of Eastern Mediterranean Sea, including the south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
The Oruc Reis will be joined in the latest “seismic survey” mission by two other ships, the frigates of the Turkish Navy Ataman and Cengiz Han, according to the NAVTEX message. The vessel will be operating  just 6.5 nautical miles off Kastellorizo and South-East of Rhodes.
via @EhaNews
The Oruc Reis left the port of Antalya early morning Monday and is sailing to the illegally reserved sea area.
Athens reaction
Monday morning, Greece responded with a counter-NAVTEX saying that Turkey is not eligible to issue such navigation warnings for this area, that the Turkish NAVTEX was illegal and concerned “unauthorized activity covers the Greek continental shelf”..
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry Athens called on Ankara to immediately reverse its decision, end its illegal actions and  withdraw the vessel from the area.

“The new illegal Turkish Navtex at a distance of only 6.5 nautical miles from the Greek coast is a major escalation and a direct threat to peace and security in the region,” the Greek foreign ministry said.

“Just a few days after the meeting of the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, during which the Turkish side promised to propose a date for exploratory contacts, its unreliability is demonstrated again as well as the fact that Turkey sincerely does not want dialogue. It insists on aggressive and illegal tactics of past centuries, clearly confirming its role as the pre-eminent factor of instability and delinquency in the region from Libya to the Aegean and Cyprus, Syria, Iraq and now Nagorno-Karabakh,” the ministry added.

Stressing that “Turkey systematically ignores international law, maritime law and the rules of good neighborliness,” the Greek Foreign Ministry also noted that Turkey “is provocatively indifferent to the European Union’s urges to comply with international law, as a self-evident condition of every step forward in Euro-Turkish relations.”

“We call on Turkey to immediately reverse its decision. To immediately end its illegal actions through which it systematically undermines peace and security in the region,” Athens said., adding Greece will not be blackmailed and will continue to defend its sovereignty and sovereign rights, while contributing to the consolidation of regional security and stability,” the ministry statement said.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Monday noon that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will brief European Council President Charles Michel on the latest Turkish provocation and will push to include the issue in the upcoming Summit on October 15-16.

Quo Vadis, Ankara?
Ankara’s provocative move comes as the two neighboring countries and NATO allies are supposed to set a date for resuming exploratory contacts that were interrupted in March 2016 on Turkey’s initiative.

Ankara first deployed the Oruc Reis seismic research vessel accompanied by war ship in the area of the Greek continental shelf on July 21 and escalated tensions on August 10 when it extended the mission, ignoring repeated calls to stop by Athens and the European Union.

The Oruc Reis was pulled back to shore on September 13, in what many hoped was a sign Ankara and Athens could resolve the crisis through talks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the time said the withdrawal was to give diplomacy a chance.

Yet, Turkish officials insisted the ship was only undergoing planned maintenance and would return to the eastern Mediterranean to continue its work

The withdrawal of Oruc Reis in September proved to be what many suspected: Just a tactical move by Ankara, to escape sanctions imposed by the European Union.

According to Turkish media, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will visit the Turkish capital on upcoming Wednesday.

PS Do Merkel and Berlin seriously believe that they will convince Ankara to refrain from provocative actions and abandon its expansion policies?

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2 comments

  1. Now the EU needs to put its money where its mouth is. They say the are firmly behind Greece and Cyprus and that there will be consequences for Turkey. It was at this backdrop that Cyprus supported EU sanctions against Belarus and gave up its blocking of the resolution. Belarus has done nothing against the interest of the EU or EU MS. Turkey has and on multiple occasions.

  2. They are duck and hide cowards, returning to port to evade sanctions and then coming back out after further provoking to take back a Cyprus town. As if changing a church into a mosque and rude talk to provoke war just wasn’t enough with these clowns.

    This time he will strike first seeking to start conflict before the UIS election November 3rd. Greece should also preemptively increase its maritime borders to 12 miles to meet every provocation with an even more dire response because this is the only language this thieving dictator donkey understands.