Greece will do ‘whatever necessary’ in dispute with Turkey

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Greece warned Thursday it will do “whatever is necessary” to defend its sovereign rights in response to plans by neighbouring Turkey to proceed with an oil-and-gas research mission south of Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean.

The dispute over seabed mineral rights has led to increased navy deployments by both NATO members in the region, where a Turkish research vessel, the Oruc Reis, is being prepared for a survey mission.

Turkey has drawn growing criticism from Western allies, with French President Emmanuel Macron joining calls for European Union sanctions against Ankara if the dispute escalates further.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas described the mission as a direct violation of Greek sovereignty and that of Greek ally Cyprus.

In this undated but recent photograph, made available by Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the research vessel Oruc Reis is seen in Antalya, Turkey. (Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources via AP)

“The government is underlining to all parties that Greece will not accept a violation of its sovereignty and will do whatever is necessary to defend its sovereign rights,” Petsas said.

Macron said sanctions now appeared necessary.

“It is not acceptable for the maritime space of a Union member state to be violated or threatened. Those responsible must be sanctioned,” Macron said before talks in Paris with Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential Elysee Palace

Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over sea boundaries but recent discoveries of natural gas and drilling plans across the East Mediterranean have exacerbated the dispute.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, ministers and army commanders follow a guard of honor at the mausoleum of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Thursday, July 23, 2020. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

Turkey argues Greek islands should not be included in calculating maritime zones of economic interest — a position that Greece says is a clear violation of international law. Greece has around 6,000 islands and smaller islets in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, more than 200 of them inhabited.

The survey ship Oruc Reis remains anchored off the port of Antalya, in southeastern Turkey, but a navigational telex issued by the port says the mission planned through Aug. 2 remains “valid and effective.”

Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said Thursday: “We want all natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean to be shared fairly.”

“We will never accept threats or sanctions,” the state-run Anadolu quoted him as saying. “We do not accept Greece’s maximalist position.”

Sourced By: Associated Press

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