East Med Crisis: Germany & US Warn Turkey Against ‘Calculated Provocation’ Over Gas Exploration

Written by | Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Ankara has sent an energy research ship back to waters contested with Greece, prompting angry responses from Athens and its allies, notably the United States, France and Germany. All four countries on Tuesday (13 October) demanded that Turkey pull back the vessel, whose mission is carry out a seismic survey south of the Greek island Kastellorizo, calling the move a “calculated provocation”. “Coercion, threats, intimidation, and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece,” read a statement from the US State Department.
“Turkey’s back and forth between escalation and a policy of detente has to stop,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas slammed Turkey after meeting his Cypriot counterpart in Nicosia on Tuesday, while also pointing out that he had deliberately left Ankara out of the itinerary of his trip whose aim was to mediate and reduce tensions in the region. As Germany holds the rotating EU presidency, its top envoy has been mediating between Athens and Ankara. Maas said Germany stood in solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and appealed to Turkey “to refrain from closing the dialogue window that has just opened with Greece through unilateral measures.“
Turkish naval authorities announced on Sunday (11 October) that the vessel Oruc Reis would resume gas exploration in the contested waters and stay there for 10 days, to “protect our rights,” as Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez put it in a tweet. The Turkish Foreign Ministry also denounced Greece’s claims that the return of the Oruc Reis showed Turkey was unreliable and unwilling to negotiate as “groundless” and “incompatible with international law.” Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, have long disputed over natural gas reserves and maritime boundaries, with both sides claiming the right to drill the same areas in the same part of the Eeastern Mediterranean.

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