Seeing no response, Turkey plans to put a rig inside Greek waters near the island of Kastellorizo to drill for oil and gas after having already sent an energy research vessel and warships into the area.
That could up the stakes dramatically and raise the risk of a conflict after the move led Greece's New Democracy to break off planned talks in Anakara over boundaries in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
Greek officials briefed United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo but Kathimerini said Greece's government feels Turkey is trying to goad a response to justify military action or strengthen Erdogan's hand in pressured negotiations.
Referring to Turkey’s actions, a government source not named told the paper that “Erdogan’s moves do not produce a legal effect.”
The European Union, which set aside the idea of sanctions after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pulled them back to give diplomacy a chance, is dithering, giving Turkey until the end of the year to reach a resolution with Greece.
Turkey's plans to become more aggressive in its quest to claim even more Greek seas under a maritime deal with Libya no other country recognizes was announced by Energy Minister Fatih Donmez during an interview with NTV,.
He repeated Turkey's claims that the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis was in Turkish waters, not Greek, because it's operating just south of the Turkish ports of Antalya and Kas.
“It is in our continental shelf,” Donmez said, adding that the Oruc Reis is currently making 2D seismic surveys. “I imagine we will complete them in two months. Then in the same area we will do 3D seismic surveys and, as I mentioned before, if we find an area with high expectations, we will send our drilling rig to do our first research drilling,” he added.
Donmez said Turkey is being careful for now not to enter areas within the territorial waters of the islands but that it would to do drilling, with no immediate reaction from Greece's government.
“We started from our southern border, now we are working further north near Anatolia, closer to the mainland and so far there has been no negative event,” he said.
The announcements came after Turkey declared an expanded area of responsibility for search and rescue in the Aegean Sea, reaching up to 6 miles from Crete, as well as west of Kasos and Karpathos.
urkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said the aim is to include areas covered in Turkey’s Blue Homeland doctrine as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pressing ahead with his vision of an expanded presence.
He produced a map showing that half the Aegean belongs to Turkey, including waters around Greek islands, a tactic his government did before that was dismissed by Greece.