Turkey Cites Libya Deal Map to Claim Greek Island Waters

Αssociated Press

FILE- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Fayez al Sarraj, the head of Libya's internationally-recognized government, prior to their meeting in Istanbul, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. The meeting at Dolmabahce Palace took place on the first day of a ceasefire in Libya initiated by Turkey and Russia. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

Turkey defended its plan to drill for energy in Greece's seas by pointing to a map of a maritime deal it made with Libya, unrecognized elsewhere in the world, and which was sent to the United Nations, which hasn't accepted it.

Turkey responded to a complaint from Greece about the map that showed areas where the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has applied for exploration licenses, including several within Greece’s continental shelf, by insisting that these areas are within the boundaries Turkey has submitted to the United Nations.

“Our country will continue to resolutely exercise its sovereign rights in this area, which it has announced many times. We are fully determined to protect the rights of our country and those of the Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean. In this framework, our seismic research and drilling activities are carried out according to the previously determined program,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said, reported Kathimerini.

The map in question shows  24 blocks Turkey claimed under the deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, but Greece reportedly fears it's also being done as a way to dispute the six nautical mile international sovereignty of waters.

The map shows Turkey claiming blocks off the Greek islands of Rhodes, Karpathos, Kassos and eastern Crete, the furor leading Greece to summon Turkey's Ambassador Burak Ozugergin was summoned to the Greek Foreign Ministry, where he was handed a demarche, a formal political initiative.

The drilling could begin within several months, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said over the protests of Cyprus, Greece, Israel and the European Union, which  issued only soft sanctions, reluctant to take on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the launch of Turkey’s Fatih oil-and-gas drilling ship to the Black Sea, Donmez said Turkish Petroleum (TPAO), which had applied for an exploration permit in the eastern Mediterranean, would begin operations in areas under its license after the process was completed, the news agency Reuters said.

Turkey’s new Kanuni drill ship would also go to the Mediterranean later this year, he added, a move which could add to the growing tensions that have put Greece and Turkey at odds and near conflict stage at times.