Tension between Greece and Turkey

New tensions between Greece and Turkey in the South Aegean. The Greek navy is on the alert for a Turkish energy exploration mission off the coast of Kastellorizo: the challenge for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean has started again.
Tension rises on the borders of the southern Aegean. The Greek Navy is on an “intensified alert” as Ankara has sent a naval energy exploration mission off the coast of Kastellorizo, a Greek island about two kilometers from the Turkish coast. The explorations, in search of gas, are scheduled until August 2, but Athens has sent a formal protest causing the Turkish reaction: “Greece’s claims are contrary to international law – said Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu – it is absurd that a small island located a few miles from the Turkish coast and more than 500 kilometers from Athens has a maritime jurisdiction that extends for 200 nautical miles in every direction. Which country would accept such a situation? “.

The Turkish government claims the area south of Kastellorizo ​​as part of its continental shelf and has issued a notice restricting navigation in the area (Navtex). A claim that Athens has always strongly denied, denouncing a violation of its territorial waters. The arm wrestling on Kastellorizo ​​is part of the broader game relating to the definition of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) for the exploitation of natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The clash on Kastellorizo ​​takes place in a difficult moment due to the already stormy relations between Greece and Turkey, historically en route to Cyprus, on the migration issue, and today also on Hagia Sophia, after Ankara’s announcement of wanting to rehabilitate the Istanbul museum, for centuries an Orthodox Christian cathedral, in a mosque.

After intervening in Libya in support of the Serraj government, Erdogan signed an agreement with Tripoli for an exclusive economic zone that crosses a large portion of Greek territorial waters, where a Turkish ship is already carrying out hydrographic research. Athens, whose armed forces are in a state of high alert, however, found the shore of another country deeply concerned about the expansion of Ankara: the Egypt of Al Sisi.

France has also taken a position against Turkey, which according to Paris has “violated the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus” in the eastern Mediterranean and therefore “deserves to be sanctioned by the European Union”. French President Emmanuel Macron, saying “completely on the side of Greece and Cyprus with respect to Turkish violations of their sovereignty”.

Receiving in Paris his Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, Macron underlined: “It is not acceptable that the maritime space of a Member State of our Union is violated or threatened. Those who contribute to it must be sanctioned”.

Late yesterday evening German Chancellor Angela Merkel overheard Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to mediate in the situation of growing military tension between the two countries.

By Domenico Greco

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