Turkey main­tains Aegean pres­ence

Athens sees ef­fort to dis­pute Greek sovereignty in sea area around Kastelorizo

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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.”

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