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Politics

Turkey Plans Energy Drilling Off More Greek Islands

Unchecked by NATO or the European Union, Turkey said it will go ahead with more drilling for energy in the East Mediterranean and Aegean, including off the islands of Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes as well as eastern Crete.

Turkey's government, citing a maritime deal with Libya dividing the seas between them in an agreement unrecognized anywhere else in the word, designed sections of 24 blocks within or beyond six nautical miles of the islands.

That overlaps Greece's Continental Shelf, parts of which Turkey doesn't recognize either but so far the drilling plans don't include going near Kastellorizo, which is close to Turkey's coast and a spot within easy reach of any incursion.

It is clear the way the blocks are designed that Turkey plans to challenge Greece’s sovereignty by reiterating Ankara's position that the Greek islands cannot claim a continental shelf but just six nautical miles of territorial waters, said Kathimerini.

The outline of the 24 blocks was published in the Gazette preparatory to the consignment of those blocks to the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) which is also drilling off Cyprus, defying soft EU sanctions.

The publication also included requests by TPAO to conduct hydrocarbon exploration at all the western-most lots shown in the outline, in the vicinity of the Greek islands.

Sources not identified told the paper that Turkey's publication in its Government Gazette shows it wants to further implement the deal with Libya although a map of the coordinates it submitted to the United Nations’ Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea – which Turkey doesn't recognize either – hasn't been posted by the UN.

Turkey's next step will be to issue navigational telexes (NAVTEX) reserving the areas where it plans to conduct hydrocarbon exploration, with goal of drilling for natural gas and oil, ramping up the tension more with Greece.

Turkey appears emboldened by no one trying to stop the moves and its actions in Libya where it backs the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord that has been strengthening its hold on Tripoli against an offensive by the rival rebel commander Khalifa Haftar.

Greece's New Democracy government reportedly expects Turkey will begin seismic research in the area south of Crete falling within Libyan jurisdiction under the November agreement. 

But outlining of exploration blocks west of the 28th meridian points to Turkey's intention to proceed rapidly with research near the Greek islands, without waiting for the UN to complete technical deliberations, the paper's report added.

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