Jun 24 2019

Greek armed forces on alert over tensions with Turkey - Kathimerini

Greek armed forces are prepared to deal with the escalation of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean Sea as Turkey continues to drill for hydrocarbons off Cyprus, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

Turkey said last week it would be sending a second vessel to explore for oil and gas off Cyprus. The move arrives as the struggle for rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean continues to fuel tension between Turkey, Cyprus and Greece. European Union member states and U.S. officials have objected to Turkey's increasing drilling efforts in the region.

Athens, which has already taken political steps against what it calls Turkey’s provocative behaviour in the region, is mulling how to react should Ankara decide to conduct seismic research or drilling within Greece’s continental shelf or Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Kathimerini said.

Cyprus plans to conduct eight drilling operations for hydrocarbons over the next 24 months in its EEZ, which, according to Ankara, is on Turkey’s continental shelf and is therefore Turkey’s by right. Turkey also maintains that attempts by Cyprus to conduct gas exploration are a violation of the rights of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a breakaway state recognised by only Ankara.

The EU’s highest political body, the European Council, issued a statement last week condemning Turkish drilling in the eastern Mediterranean and threatening its own actions in response, following calls from Athens to get tough with Ankara.