Turkish warship warns Greek ship not to enter its waters
ISTANBUL (AP) – A Turkish warship has issued a warning to a Greek research vessel to prevent it from entering what Turkey considers to be its territorial waters, the Turkish Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. The showdown came a year after tensions in the eastern Mediterranean threatened to escalate into open conflict between neighbors and NATO allies.
The research vessel Nautical Geo was confronted by the frigate Orucreis as it attempted to enter Turkey’s continental shelf, the ministry said. “The vessel in question was warned by radio not to enter the Turkish continental shelf. There was no physical intervention. “
He condemned Greece’s “illegal, provocative and expansionist initiative” under the guise of scientific research and said Turkey was “determined to protect and defend its rights and interests”.
The ministry did not say when the incident occurred, but maritime tracking services showed that the Maltese-flagged Nautical Geo docked at the port of Heraklion on the Greek island of Crete on Wednesday.
Greece and Turkey are fighting over the exploration of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean amid a long dispute over their respective territorial waters. Turkey also sees itself as the guardian of the energy rights of separatist northern Cyprus in the region.
In the summer of 2020, Greek and Turkish warships passed each other across the eastern Mediterranean as Turkey sent navy-backed research vessels to search for oil reserves.
Although there was no direct conflict, the danger was illustrated when a Greek frigate collided with a Turkish warship in August. The standoff has also drawn France, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union into defending Greece’s rights in the face of what they said were Turkish provocations.
The confrontation led Athens to strengthen its naval and air forces with new defense equipment, including 24 French Rafales.
Last week, Athens issued a warning from Navtex that the Nautical Geo would operate off the east coast of Crete, which Turkey considers its waters and is covered by a 2019 maritime agreement between Turkey and Libya. The Navtex expired on Wednesday.
Senior Greek and Turkish officials have met twice this year to discuss their maritime disputes, the first talks on the long-standing issue since 2016.