With Turkey announcing a new illegal NAVTEX, a navigational notice, over six Greek islands, there is no doubt that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has escalated tensions in the Aegean.
“Ankara has created an explosive situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, with successive NAVTEXs in areas covered by the Greek continental shelf,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said when speaking at the Economist’s 16th online conference on Cyprus.
“Turkey is responsible for destabilizing the region,” he continued to stress at the online conference entitled “Energy diplomacy in turbulent times.”
He stressed that Ankara has created an “explosive situation” in the Eastern Mediterranean, with successive NAVTEXs in areas covered by the Greek continental shelf, with the Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis carrying out illegal activities.
The actions of the Turkish research vessel violates the Law of the Sea, as well as the sovereignty and sovereign rights of Cyprus.
Dendias pointed out that Greece systematically seeks cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as in the wider region.
“This is demonstrated by the tripartite and multilateral schemes that the country is promoting, such as with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, as well as with other countries,” he said.
He commented that the EastMed Gas Forum, which was recently established as an international organization, is receiving a positive response from other important international actors, including the United States.
As he said, this direction includes the bilateral maritime demarcation agreements that Greece recently concluded with Italy and Egypt, as well as the political agreement with Albania to refer the issue to The Hague, as well as the similar demarcation agreements that Cyprus has concluded with Egypt, Lebanon and Israel.
At the same time, he noted that cooperation initiatives in the region are open to all interested countries, provided there is respect for international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.
“Turkey seems to perceive energy as a pretext to advance its expansionist ambitions in the region, not hesitating to jeopardize regional peace and stability, disregarding UN decisions on the Cyprus issue, with provocative and persistently delinquent behavior towards Greece,” he said.
Dendias then highlighted that Turkey has “involvement in the crises in Syria, Libya and elsewhere,” and is “instrumentalizing immigration and religion.”
He also noted that Turkey treats the energy deposits in the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone as an opportunity to blackmail the government of the Republic of Cyprus, allegedly invoking the rights of Turkish Cypriots, who are themselves victims of Turkish agenda.
“And no one can focus on the energy sector without ignoring the key issue, Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the United Nations and the European Union,” he said.
Finally, the Foreign Minister reiterated the potential for progress, development and stability offered by energy, when, as he said, “the path of diplomacy, cooperation and international law is chosen, in contrast to the prospect of widening inequalities and endangering peace.”