The European Union has been dragged into the dispute between Greece and Turkey over Ankara’s decision to send military vessels to the disputed east Mediterranean region to accompany the research vessels Oruc Reis, where it will undertake the surveys close to Megisti. And now the bloc has sent a warning to Turkey after it warned its Yavuz energy drill ship would extend operations in disputed Mediterranean waters off Cyprus until mid-September.
Yavuz will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships according to a maritime notice that added “all vessels are strongly advised not to enter” the area.
A standoff has intensified in recent weeks between Turkey and EU-member Greece over oil and gas exploration rights at sea, and even involved a minor collision between their frigates last week.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sent a stern warning to Turkey and called for an immediate halt to its activities and the beginning of dialogue.
Turkey’s renewed drilling plan covers a zone delineated by Cyprus and Egypt and raises tensions.
He said: “This action runs counter and undermines efforts to resume dialogue and negotiations, and to pursue immediate de-escalation.”
Cairo and Athens signed a territorial zoning deal earlier this month. While Paris has stepped in to criticise what it calls Turkey’s provocations, Ankara says it will not back down from defending its legal rights.
But President Tayyip Erdogan remains defiant and said on Saturday “the language of sanctions and threats” will not deter Turkey.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said they discussed on Sunday a standoff over disputed territory in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara is at loggerheads with Athens and the EU.
After the meeting in Santo Domingo, Mr Pompeo said on Twitter they discussed “the urgent need to reduce tensions”.
Separately Cavusoglu, in a briefing afterwards, said he explained the “rightful cause” pursued by Turkey in the region.