Turkey Mulls Energy Hunt Off Greek Island Kastellorizo


Kastelorizo Island, Greece. Photo: Eurokinissi/Giorgos Kontarinis

Showing no signs it's interested in ratcheting down tension, Turkey plans to look for oil and energy south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, cranking up worry as it forges ahead with drilling off Cyprus despite warnings from the European Union, United States and Greece.

Kastellorizo is only two kilometers (1.24 miles) off the south coast of Turkey which disputes parts of Greece's Continental Shelf as well as Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ramping up his country's hunt for oil and gas in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, ignoring calls for him to stop.

The Turkish Petroleum Corporation, known by its acronym TPAO, has lodged a request with the leadership of the Turkish Navy to conduct seismic research in an area stretching from the south of Rhodes to beyond Kastellorizo after August 15, said Kathimerini.

By then, the mission of the Turkish Oruc Reis research vessel in the Sea of Marmara will have been completed, making it ready to move to the East Mediterranean toward the end of next month, as Turkey said.

Greece's new New Democracy administration has reached out to try to calm the waters over Cyprus and Turkish provocations in the seas but Erdogan so far has shown on interest in doing anything except increasing his country's hunt for potentially lucrative energy revenues.

Greek defense and diplomatic officials watching and worrying, the paper said, balancing warnings with offers for negotiation amid anxieties there could be a naval conflict, accidental or otherwise after bombastic talk from Turkey.

“Greece does not tolerate threats of war,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told Parliament last week. “It’s guide is respect for international law,” he said. Turkey's response was to announce it would send a fourth energy research vessel into the region, with two drilling off Cyprus now.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had reassured Dendias that Greece is being supported, with Washington wanted closer ties and an expanded military presence in the country as relations with Turkey deteriorate after Erdogan said he would purchase a Russian S-400 missile system that could compromise NATO, the defense alliance to which Turkey, the US and Greece belong.