FILE: Turkey’s Oruc Reis seismic exploration ship is planned to arrive in the area.
CAIRO – 22 July 2020: The US State Department has urged Turkey to refrain from any drilling plans in the Eastern Mediterranean that would raise tensions in the region.
A spokesperson issued a statement saying that the “United States is aware that Turkey has issued a NAVTEX for research in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean.
“We urge Turkish authorities to to halt any plans for operations in the Eastern Mediterranean and to avoid steps that raise tensions in the region,” the statement said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkey issued a navigational telex (NAVTEX) announcing plans for a seismic survey south and east of the Greek island of Kastellorizo from July 21-August 2.
Kastellórizo - an island in Greece
Turkey’s Oruc Reis seismic exploration ship is planned to arrive in the area.
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned that Turkey is threatening to violate the sovereignty of Greece and Europe.
It is noted that Athens is ready to respond to Turkey’s ignition of a general crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to accelerate hostile developments in the region, according to Greek City Times.
“Greece is following the developments with confidence and absolute readiness. The questioning of the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus constitutes a questioning of the sovereign rights of Europe. If Turkey continues in this direction, the imposition of sanctions by the EU will be a one-way street,” the Prime Minister said.
Defense sources in Athens fear that Turkey plans to ignite a general crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos briefed US Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a scheduled phone conversation on Tuesday afternoon.
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos
He told his US counterpart that said Greek navy ships were in the area and that “Greece is prepared to defend its sovereign rights if necessary,” according to a defense ministry press release.
According to a statement, Greek authorities have already raised their concern with the European Union, NATO and the United Nations, as well as with capitals of permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Speaking with German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Turkey “adds yet another link on its chain of aggressive actions against Greece, Cyprus and the entire European Union.”
The Greek Prime Minister told Mr Maas that if Turkey’s provocative actions continue, then “imposing EU sanctions will be the only response,” as it is “up to Turkey to choose what relationship it wants to have with Greece, Cyprus, and with Europe.”