The Oruc Reis was sent to the region, accompanied by a flotilla of Turkish navy vessels, last week, prompting condemnation by Greece, whose Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis vowed: “No challenge will go unanswered.” The statement, issued after an enquiry by Express.co.uk, suggested the eastern Mediterranean had become “a region of disputes with overlapping claims of Continental Shelf/ Exclusive Economic Zone (CS/EEZ)”.
It blamed the “maximalist position” of the “Greek/Greek Cypriot duo”, accusing the Greek Cypriot Administration (GCA) of starting drilling operations in 2011, “in violation of Turkey’s and Turkish Cypriots’ (TC) rights”.
The statement added: “Meanwhile, Turkey, while refraining from action at sea, was constantly inviting all parties, except for GCA, to engage in negotiations based on international law and the principle of equity.”
Turkey had concluded agreements with what it refers to as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 2011 and with Libya in 2019 with respect to the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction areas in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The statement explained: “However, the first drilling of GCA left Turkey and TCs with no option but to react to this action and started drilling in Turkey’s continental shelf.
“Recently, in July, a seismic research vessel, Oruç Reis was deployed to an area of Turkey’s continental shelf, which was declared to the UN, part of which Greece claims to be overlapping with her own continental shelf.”
As previously mentioned in a speech by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Greece based its claim on its ownership of Kastellorizo, located barely a mile from the Turkish mainland and 360 miles from the Greek mainland.
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However, the statement added: “In spite of that, August 7, hours before the release of the joint statement regarding the restart of talks, Greece announced the signing of a maritime boundary delimitation agreement with Egypt, which violates Turkey’s continental shelf.
“With this agreement, which, as far as Turkey is concerned is null and void, Greece demonstrated her unwillingness to start an honest and sincere dialogue with Turkey.
“Following this, Turkey has resumed hydrocarbon research activities within her own continental shelf.
“The Turkish Navy has also been deployed to exercise self-defence for the seismic research ship, under strict orders to not to open fire first.”
The statement concluded: “Turkey believes current issues in the Eastern Mediterranean have to resolved bilaterally, instead of creating a multilateral deadlock.
“Turkey is ready to engage on genuine and sincere dialogue.”