Greece seeks EU emergency meeting on East Mediterranean tensions

Fatma Lotfi
3 Min Read

Greece will request an emergency meeting of the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council over Turkey’s illegal drilling plans in the disputed Eastern Mediterranean waters, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ office said on Tuesday. 

Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Dendias also said the calls for an EU meeting came amid an obvious Turkish threat to the Eastern Mediterranean’s peace and security.

“There will be no tolerance of Turkey’s attempts, and Greece will defend its sovereign rights,” Dendias said, calling on Turkey “to leave the Greek continental shelf immediately.” 

In an earlier statement, the Greek Foreign Ministry described “the Turkish illegal exploration south of the island of Megisti on the Greek continental shelf, in combination with the observed wide mobility of units of the Turkish navy, as a new serious escalation.”

Tensions have grown after Turkish Naval Forces issued a Navtex on Monday saying that its ship, the Oruc Reis, would conduct a seismic survey in the Eastern Mediterranean. This is set to take place in the area between Cyprus and Greece over the next two weeks, until 23 August.

Fuelling tensions, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country will issue new seismic exploration and drilling licences for the western part of its continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean region by the end of this month.

Turkey announced, in late July, that it will suspend its oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean. However, it reversed the decision only a few days following Egypt and Greece’s signing of a maritime demarcation deal establishing an exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Greek-Egyptian EEZ Agreement would see the full utilisation of mineral resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region, particularly the area’s oil and gas reserves.

Moreover, Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said, on Monday, that he discussed the troubling developments in the Eastern Mediterranean with his Egyptian and Greek counterparts. He gave no further details on the meeting, with no updates on the situation available from Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

European Commission Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Peter Stano, described the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean as “extremely worrying,” adding that the EU stands in full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece. 

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with Greek PM Mitsotakis on Monday.

“The situation must be resolved in a spirit of allied solidarity and in accordance with international law,” Stoltenberg tweeted. 

US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt also reaffirmed US support “for Greece-Turkey dialogue and commitment to resource development in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

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A journalist in DNE's politics section with more than six years of experience in print and digital journalism, focusing on local political issues, terrorism and human rights. She also writes features on women issues and culture.