Turkey Stretches Reach Across Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean

(AP Photo)

Stepping up provocations, Turkey is disputing Greece’s continental shelf and the waters around Cyprus where it’s trying to keep foreign energy companies from drilling for oil and gas and is reserving swathes of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean for naval exercises.

That includes off the island of Kastellorizo near Turkey’s coast as shown in navigational telexes (NAVTEX) issuances warning other vessels to stay away, said Kathimerini. Turkey’s navtexes are legal as they reserve areas in international waters.

But they also bolster Turkey’s attempt to claim a greater area of waters after Ankara was upset that Greece planned to extend its territorial claim from six to 12 miles in the Ionian off its western coast. The NAVTEX issuances inherently dispute what Greece says is the eastern edge of its continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the waters around Kastellorizo.
As regards Kastellorizo, Ankara is rejecting Greece’s Eastern Mediterranean policy of which Kastellorizo is a key component.

Trying to straddle both sides, the United States said Cyprus has a right to let foreign energy companies – including an American firm – hunt for oil and gas off the island as Turkey stepped up its complaints and warnings.

The US State Department said Washington discourages any act or rhetoric that would raise tensions in the region with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan having said he wouldn’t sit still if the drilling goes on after he had earlier sent warships to keep an Italian vessel away.

The US though said the Cypriots should share any potentially lucrative finds of oil or gas with Turkish-Cypriots who’ve been unlawfully occupying the northern third of the island since a 1974 invasion that has seen a 30,000-strong army staying in place.