Turkey maintains Aegean presence
Athens sees effort to dispute Greek sovereignty in sea area around Kastelorizo
In what is seen in Athens as an effort by Ankara to push through its message that Greece has limited sovereignty in the area of the Eastern Mediterranean surrounding the island of Kastelorizo, Turkish forces have in recent days maintained a steady presence in the region, either through military exercises or with the dispatch of research vessels.
According to a navigational telex (navtex) issued by Turkey, the Piri Reis oceanographic vessel will remain in the area south of Kastelorizo until Monday.
Furthermore, according to another two navigational telexes, Turkey is planning to conduct exercises with live ammunition in areas west and east of Kastelorizo (within Turkish territorial waters).
Moreover, Ankara has already announced that it will conduct hydrocarbon explorations in the Eastern Mediterranean next month. It remains to be seen exactly what part of the Eastern Mediterranean Turkey plans to explore.
In Athens, Turkey’s moves are seen to be clearly linked to the decision by Cyprus to move ahead, in spite of Ankara’s objections, with the extraction of natural gas from drilling block 11 in its ex- clusive economic zone (EEZ).
In an interview with CNN Greece, which will be broadcast today, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades again expressed his concerns over the tensions that may be further fueled in the period stretching “from now until the Turkish referendum (on April 16),” and by the ongoing effort to create “an atmosphere of fanaticism within Turkish society.”