Jul 28 2019

Turkey looking to hunt for energy off Greek island Kastellorizo - Kathimerini

Turkey’s plans to look for oil and energy south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo despite warnings from the European Union of sanctions over its drilling off Cyprus is a source of concern for Athens, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Sunday.

The Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has filed a request with the leadership of the Turkish Navy to conduct seismic research in an area stretching from the south of Rhodes to beyond Kastellorizo after August 15 to this end, it said.

The move arrives amid escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over hydrocarbon resources between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Turkey's increasing drilling efforts in the region and the EU earlier this month announced sanctions on Turkey, including a freeze to 146 million euros of pre-accession assistance for Turkey for next year.

The mission of the Turkish Oruç Reis research vessel in the Sea of Marmara will be completed by mid-August and it is expected to move to the Eastern Mediterranean toward the end of next month, the newspaper said.

Athens is closely observing Turkey’s manoeuvring in the Eastern Mediterranean with growing concern, Kathimerini said, and the government has repeatedly issued warnings to Ankara, stressing its readiness to defend its territorial integrity.

Athens expects that Ankara will proceed with plans to dispatch a fourth vessel to the region, as confirmed by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on July 16, immediately after the EU unveiled its measures against Turkish hydrocarbon exploration.

Following Turkey’s Yavuz and Fatih drillships, and the Barbaros seismic research vessel operating in the area, the arrival of the Oruç Reis would be seen as an ‘’additional step in Ankara’s attempt to corner Cyprus and prevent it from its own plans to drill for hydrocarbons in its exclusive economic zone,’’ Kathimerini said.

Who Athens can turn to in the event that Ankara decides to further escalate tensions in the regions remains unclear, according to the newspaper, which underlined that the instability in the area has prompted Greece to seek to strengthen ties with other key players in the region, such as Israel.

Greece, Israel and Cyprus have been deepening ties and have agreed to boost the development of energy resources as the three countries seek to benefit from the potentially huge hydrocarbon reserves detected in the Eastern Mediterranean.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/243057/article/ekathimerini/news/turkey-eyes-area-off-kastellorizo