Tensions in the East Mediterranean crisis that broke out between Turkey and Greece were initially defused when German Chancellor Angela Merkel stepped in. Both countries made temperate statements in the crisis between Ankara and Athens, which the German press claimed had reached the brink of war. Following this, Turkey moored in Antalya Harbor its vessel Oruç Reis, which is waiting to conduct seismic explorations near Meis Island until the diplomatic negotiations with Athens were finalized. However, after Greece’s so-called “maritime zone” provocation with Egypt under putschist Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s administration, Turkey strongly reacted to this pirate deal, which perpendicularly intercepted its legitimate deal with Libya. Deeming this deal as “non-existent,” Turkey re-declared Navtex for its exploration vessel, and showed all countries, friend or foe, that it will not give up on its claims in the “Blue Homeland.”
Following these developments, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa Seismic Exploration vessel, which was anchored off Dipkarpaz (Rizokarpaso) in the east of Cyprus, relaunched drilling operations. The Yavuz Drillship in the Tuzla Shipyard was also anchored at the project site in the open waters of Baf and Limasol in the East Mediterranean.
The area Turkey included in its exploration site contains the fields that are also stated in the so-called deal signed between Greece and Egypt.
TURKEY’S SHOW OF STRENGTH IN THE EAST MEDITERRANEAN
As the developments between Turkey and Greece in the East Mediterranean were taking place, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the following statement: “Of course we are not going to consent to an attempt to confine us within our shores through a-few-square-kilometer-sized islands while overlooking a massive 780,000-square-kilometer territory. We are saying, let us join forces as all the countries in the Mediterranean. Let us find a formula that protects everyone’s rights. Certain countries that choose not to heed our country’s call are ruining their own future.” The message released by the National Defense Ministry following Erdoğan’s statement said that vessels and air vehicles belonging to our naval forces are continuing to accompany our Yavuz and Fatih drillships, and the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa seismic exploration vessel. It is quite clear that vessels and air vehicles refer to Turkish battleship and warcraft. A warning has been issued that in the case of any attack on our seismic exploration vessels by Greece and its abetting forces, our battleship and warcraft will fulfill their duties, and that Turkey’s determination in protecting Ankara’s interests in the East Mediterranean should not be tested. While Turkey’s subsequent Naxtex declarations announced to relevant countries that the war drills, the missile drill Russia will be conducting in this region, and any action excluding Turkey from the East Mediterranean is not a solution process, they also give the message that problems can be solved diplomatically through peace rather than war.
There is a complete atmosphere of panic in Greece. It has been claimed that part of the area where Oruç Reis will be conducting explorations is within the Greek continental shelf. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis summoned the government’s Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) to an extraordinary meeting that lasted 59 minutes. During the brief statement, it was said the situation was evaluated, and the reaction Greece would show in any case was ascertained. This was the only statement made. There is no doubt that Greece cannot possibly stand against Turkey on its own. As always, it is asking for Europe and NATO’s help. It seems as though the anti-Turkey French President Emmanuel Macron is the power behind the pirate “maritime zone” deal between Cairo and Athens. However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reported, “According to information obtained by Ankara, it is clear that Egypt’s continental shelf is not within the borders drawn by Turkey.” On the contrary, Çavuşoğlu stated that the continental shelf drawn by Greece is clearly in violation of Turkey’s continental shelf. The foreign minister said that Athens wants to start its deal with Cairo from the continental shelf of Crete and the islands around it, but that it clearly had to step back from this position: “It appears that their sovereignty rights over the islands there, including Crete, were compromised. This essentially supports our theory.”
Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ outburst saying, “Our army is ready”, while East Mediterranean tensions are ongoing between Turkey and Greece, is described among military circles as, “not worth paying any attention to.” Yet, this attached significance to the question of what Turkey is capable of doing if any one of its own elements are attacked, primarily its seismic exploration vessel Oruç Reis. According to experts, even though limited, Turkey has the instruments capable of striking Athens without risking the life of even one of its soldiers. Therefore, a war between Turkey and Greece is ludicrous in terms of our neighbor.