NEW YORK – Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias used the United Nations General Assembly opening to give his European Union counterparts report about Turkey warning off Crete an energy research ship licensed by Greece.
The Malta-flagged Nautical Geo was approached by Turkish warships near Greece's biggest island – where Turkey said it also plans to look for oil and gas – the incident drawing fire from Greek authorities as Turkey, after a summer truce between the countries to keep tourists coming, stepped up provocations again.
Diplomatic sources not named told the newspaper Kathimerini that Dendias told his peers it was an “unacceptable move” that was “outside the bounds of reasonable behavior” by Turkey.
He said the ship was carrying out scientific research inside the Greek continental shelf – as designated by the Greece-Egypt maritime deal of 2020 – in an area 10 nautical miles east of Crete.
The same sources said Erdogan was trying to present an image of normality for abnormal movies, calling his pretense of trying to swindle the world about his true intentions as “completely divorced from reality.”
The Nautical Geo survey ship was confronted by the Orucreis frigate as it attempted to enter Turkey’s continental shelf, Turkey's NTV said. The Turkish ship issued a radio message warning it would intervene if the survey vessel continued its course.
Greece and Turkey have been competing over the exploration of gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean amid a feud over territorial waters, with Turkey claiming areas around Greek islands and also drilling in Cypriot waters.
In the summer of 2020, Greek and Turkish warships shadowed each other across the eastern Mediterranean as Turkey sent research ships backed by its navy to search for hydrocarbon reserves before backing off.
Although there was no direct conflict, the danger was illustrated when a Greek frigate collided with a Turkish warship in August. The standoff also drew in France, the United Arab Emirates and the EU in defending Greece’s rights in the face of what they declared to be Turkish provocations.
The confrontation led Athens to bolster its naval and air forces with purchases of new defense equipment, including 24 French Rafale fighter jets.
Earlier in September, Greece issued a NAVTEX warning that the Nautical Geo would be operating off the eastern coast of Crete, which Turkey considers its waters under a 2019 deal with Libya which no other countries accept.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)