Turkey puts Hague court on table

In what was seen as a message to Greece, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of seismic surveys by Turkish ships in the area between the islands of Rhodes and Crete since last year’s exploratory activities by the Turkish Oruç Reis vessel had not yielded any results.

Moreover, Turkish sources told Kathimerini that the disputes between the two countries over maritime areas of responsibility in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean could be deferred to the International Court of Justice, as long, they noted, as Athens adheres to the same philosophy and principles of consultation as it did with the agreements on the same issue it signed with Italy and Egypt.

Referring to exploratory activities in the southeast Aegean, Dönmez told Turkish TV network Haberturk that “if nothing is found in the seismic surveys done here, we won’t drill as it costs millions of dollars.”

“It is not a matter of political decision but a technical one. We do not drill where there is no possibility of finding anything,” he said.

Analysts believe his comments, that perhaps nothing remarkable was found in the region last year, is a political message to Greece that Turkey will not send research vessels or drill ships in the near future, giving time for diplomacy.

To some analysts in Turkey, the agreements signed by Greece with Italy and Egypt for the delimitation of maritime areas of responsibility, show that “Athens has shifted even a little bit its attitude to the principles it adhered to on these issues.”

If that is the case, they emphasised, then Turkey could engage in consultations.

They added that two countries can consult on what they agree on concerning the issue of maritime zones and take what they disagree on to international courts.

(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)