Already having sent an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo to do seismic hunting for oil and gas, Turkey is looking at extending is mission south of Crete.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told CNN Turk that,“What we do is within our own continental shelf, so we are talking about outside interference in our efforts in an area for which we don’t feel the need to get permission from anyone to operate.”
That was in reference to Turkey claiming large swathes of the East Mediterranean and Aegean under a maritime deal with Libya that no other country recognizes, Greece countering with a similar agreement with Egypt.
“Of course we can carry out exploration wherever we want and we do so. We will continue our work. The deal signed with Libya, the regions just south of Crete, are part of this,” he said.
That's near where the US Navy has a base on Souda Bay on the island as Turkey ratcheted up the tension with its ships off Kastellorizo that are being shadowed by the Greek Navy in a standoff.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had pulled back demanding European Union sanctions on Turkey to give diplomacy a chance – now calling them off – denounced Turkey’s “imperial fantasies,” as having isolated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against regional powers.
Speaking after a trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt in Nicosia, Mitsotakis accused Turkey of “entertaining imperial fantasies with aggressive actions stretching from Syria to Libya and from the Aegean to the Caucasus,” said the newspaper Kathimerini.
Mitsotakis said that Turkey’s “successive unilateral provocations coupled with extreme rhetoric” were in violation of international law while also contradicting the positions of major powers such as the United States and Russia, as well as the Arab world.
He added that the maritime boundaries deal Turkey and the Tripoli-based government in Libya, which Greece said was unlawful, “exacerbated the crisis in Libya,” but Erdogan has shown he doesn't care what anyone thinks and is forging ahead with his expansionist plans in the run-up to the US Presidential election.