Turkey plans to conduct hydrocarbon exploration near Greek islands - Kathimerini

Sections of the blocks outlined in the Turkish Official Gazette show Turkey plans to conduct hydrocarbon exploration near the Greek islands and ultimately reserve the areas for natural gas and oil drilling, Greek daily Kathimerini reported on Monday.

The western-most lots of the 24 blocks published in the Official Gazette’s Saturday edition come within or beyond six nautical miles off the coasts of Crete, Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes, and overlap the Greek continental shelf, it said.

The charted blocks are based on a maritime agreement signed in November between Turkey and Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord, which establishes a new Turkish-Libyan economic zone and bolsters Ankara’s claims over gas-rich areas of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Kathimerini stated it was clear from how the blocks were designed that Ankara “plans to challenge Greece’s sovereignty in the area by reiterating its position that the Greek islands cannot claim a continental shelf”.

The report comes during an ongoing territorial dispute between Turkey and other countries collaborating on a gas drilling project off the Cyprus coast. Turkey, the only nation to recognise the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, maintains that attempts by the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish Cypriots.

Saturday’s publication demonstrates Ankara’s determination to implement the maritime agreement with Libya, even though the map of the coordinates submitted to the United Nations has not been posted, Kathimerini said, citing sources knowledgeable of the issue.

“Ankara’s next step will be to issue navigational telexes reserving the areas where it plans to conduct hydrocarbon exploration, with the ultimate goal of drilling for natural gas and oil,” it said.

The speed of Turkey’s recent activities in the Eastern Mediterranean has the Greek government concerned, the newspaper said.