Turkey to conduct military exercises in Aegean

Turkey issued new navigational telexes (NAVTEX) on Thursday reserving parts of the northern and eastern Aegean for military exercises next week, according to the advisories posted on the Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography website.

One of the maritime safety messages issued by the office’s Izmir station reserves an area east of Mount Athos in the Halkidiki peninsula next week. The area is a part of the northern Aegean that is entirely under Greece’s jurisdiction, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.

Another set, issued by the Antalya station, seeks to reserve an area between the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo for gunnery exercises and search and rescue exercises.

The new NAVTEX advisories come during an ongoing territorial spat between Turkey and Greece over offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Political and military tensions between the NATO allies further increased after Turkey sought to explore for hydrocarbons off the coast of Cyprus and Greek islands, using a maritime agreement with Libya as the foundation.

Athens and Ankara may hold exploratory talks this month in a bid to reconcile, however the announcement of new Turkish naval exercises on Greece’s doorstep could scuttle the effort.