Greece watching Turkish moves warily as COVID-19 dominates agenda – Greek news

Turkey is testing Greece’s resolve as it continues sending its seismic surveying vessel, the Oruç Reis, to continue searching for gas in areas near Greek islands in the Aegean Sea while Athens is distracted by its battle to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Greek daily Kathimerini reported.

The Oruç Reis and its naval escort of a frigate and two support ships sailed up to 50 nautical miles southeast of Kastellorizo, a Dodecanese island off the southwest coast of Anatolia, in what the Greek government views as a test of its nerve, Kathimerini said.

Turkey and Greece have been sparring over maritime rights in the Aegean and Mediterranean seas for years, but a deal signed by Turkey and the U.N.-recognised government of Libya last November took tensions to a new high as it extended the Turkish claim to areas just off the Dodecanese islands.

Greece is closely monitoring the Turkish vessel’s movements since it believes the ship could trigger an international incident while the agenda is firmly focussed on the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, Greece is closely monitoring its border with Turkey that runs along the Evros River, where the Turkish government’s decision to allow migrants to pass its side of the border sparked a diplomatic crisis earlier this month, Kathimerini said.

When thousands of migrants arrived at the buffer zone, the Greek side called in the army and sealed its borders to prevent a mass influx.

Greece has dismantled migrant camps on its own side of the border, but the camps remain on the Turkish side, fuelling Greek suspicions since hundreds of people were still trying to cross last week, said Kathimerini.