Dec 10 2018

Turkish ships escort research vessel to avoid Greek harassment – pro gov’t daily

A Turkish Navy armada has been escorting a research vessel in the eastern Mediterranean to ensure it faces no harassment from Greek ships, pro-government daily Akşam reported on Monday.

Named in honour of a famed Ottoman Navy admiral, the RV Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa seismographic research vessel is operated by the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corp.

On Oct.18, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency reported that the Barbaros had come under harassment from a Greek frigate, without offering further details. Pro-government daily Sabah has said that the Greek ship opened fire on the research vessel. 

The Turkish Navy armada includes a gunship, and has two frigates and two corvettes responsible for blocking other ships from crossing the route of the research vessel. Clear survey results require the vessel not to change its pre-set route, according to the Turkish daily.

"We urge Greece to avoid any kind of act which may raise the tensions in the East Mediterranean," Sabah quoted the Turkish foreign ministry as saying following the incident.

The research vessel has been operating in Turkey's exclusive economic zone some 179 miles from the mainland, and its survey is under the protection of international law, according to Akşam.

Tensions have been running high this year between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean, where rhetoric on both sides has increased over disputed islets, and in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey and Greece support competing for claims over the extent of the Greek Republic of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.