Greek, French ships enter disputed waters, prompting intervention by Turkey - report

A Greek frigate and a French seismic research ship sought to operate in waters claimed by Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean at the weekend, according to a report in Hürriyet newspaper on Monday.

The French L'Atalante, escorted by the Elli frigate, sailed into the area to conduct research without Turkish permission on Saturday, Hürriyet said. The ships were turned back by Turkey's navy, it said.

Greece and Turkey disagree on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean and Aegean and have overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources. Political and military tensions escalated in August when Turkey sent its Oruç Reis research vessel escorted by warships into a disputed area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.

Greece issued a NAVTEX – a maritime safety announcement - on Thursday saying that the L'Atalante would conduct scientific research between April 15 and April 18 in the eastern Mediterranean southeast of the Greek island of Crete, according to Hürriyet. The statement coincided with a visit to Turkey by Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

Turkey immediately issued its own NAVTEX warning shipping that part of the area specified in the Greek announcement lay over the Turkish continental shelf.

L'Atalante, operated by a crew of French, Greek, Italian and Israeli citizens, continued its research outside the area after the Turkish navy intervened, Hürriyet said.