Turkey moves from verbal to active provocations with research vessel “Cesme” in the Aegean

16 February 2021
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Just 24 hours after the delusional verbal attacks of Tayyip Erdogan on Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the false argument that Athens “does not know its limitations”, Ankara made another extremely provocative move.

With a Navtex issued by the coastal station of Izmir, the Turkish side announced the start of hydrographic surveys with the research ship “Cesme” in the Central Aegean.

The area of ​​research announced by the Turks is described on the map and includes a large sea zone west of Lemnos and Agios Efstratios and east-northeast of Skyros. This is an area in international waters but only 7 nautical miles from Lemnos and Agios Efstratios and well inside the Greek continental shelf.

The Turkish Navtex is illegal because it may involve hydrographic work in international waters, but it was issued without the permission, approval and consent of Greece, which has the full and exclusive authority to license any maritime work within the limits of its area of ​​responsibility.

In other words, with practically, Ankara repeats its position that the Aegean islands only have a maritime zone equal to the current width of the Greek territorial waters, which are 6 nautical miles.

If the current weather conditions in the Aegean – where winds of nine Beaufort are blowing – continue in the coming days, it should be taken for granted that the old hydrographic “Cesme” will not be able to go out for research.

However, even if it turns out to be a challenge on paper that will not turn into provocations on the field, the Turks are trying to stay on record as the ones that have the right to conduct seismic surveys just seven nautical miles from Greek islands, without the permission of the Greek authorities.

The highly provocative action of the Erdogan regime has caused great annoyance to the Greek government. This is because the unfriendly Turkish action is manifested while Athens is waiting for Ankara’s response to the resumption of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey.

In fact, as much as the Greek government’s effort is aimed at preventing escalation, as the Erdogan regime seems to want to push Athens into a hard response, the possible exit of another Turkish researcher into the Aegean undermines and is likely to torpedo the effort of conciliation.

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