Greece Monitoring Turkish Pushes in Aegean, Land Border

Αssociated Press

FILE - Migrants aboard a Cyprus marine police boat as they're brought to harbour after being rescued from their own vessel off the Mediterranean island nation's southeastern coast, at Protaras, Cyprus, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

After pulling back thousands of refugees and migrants it sent to Greece’s northern border, Turkey is showing signs of new provocations, including sending energy research vessels off the island of Kastellorizo.

That came after Turkey earlier this year signed a maritime deal with Libya, dividing the seas between them and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying he would send a drill ship off Crete.

Kastellorizo is one of the Greek islands closest to the Turkish coast and seen as a likely target for a takeover if Turkey makes a military move at the same time Erdogan is pushing for oil and gas drilling in the Aegean and East Mediterranean, including off Cyprus.

The Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by two support ships and a frigate, sailed up to 50 nautical miles southeast of Kastellorizo in what Greece’s New Democracy sees as another test of the government's resolve, said Kathimerini.

Turkey also issued a Navigational Telex (NAVTEX) reserving an area containing blocks 4 and 5 of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with Greece closely watching at the same time monitoring the land border near the Evros River.

That’s where Turkey sent some 10,000 migrants on Feb. 28, setting off days of clashes over the fence with Greek riot police and army units guarding the border, breaking the terms of an already essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.

The newspaper said Greek authorities were still anxious that Turkey might again try to urge migrants to breach the border during the COVID-19 pandemic that has countries restricting and locking down movement out of fear.