Greece Seeks Emergency EU Meeting on Turkey

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“The foreign minister will request an emergency meeting of the European Union foreign affairs council”, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ office said. This comes amid a burgeoning row with Turkey, over the eastern Mediterranean.

The row flared up on Monday, when Ankara sent the research ship Oruc Reis off the Greek island of Kastellorizo. The Turkish seismic survey vessel is due to begin work in the disputed region. Greece believes this move to be illegal and accuses Ankara of “threatening peace” in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that Turkey’s decision constituted a “recent massive escalation”, and “exposed Turkey’s “destabilising role”. The Greek MoFA said the country “would defend its sovereignty, and its sovereign rights.”

The office of Prime Minister Mitsotakis said he had spoken to EU Council President, Charles Michel, and NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg.

“The situation must be resolved in a spirit of Allied solidarity, and per international law,” Stoltenberg tweeted. “Further seismic exploration at this point certainly represents the wrong signal,” a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said, adding that Athens and Ankara should engage in dialogue.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Monday in a national address after a meeting with his ministers: “We cannot allow [nations] to ignore a big country like Turkey, and try to imprison us to our shores.”

President Erdogan last month announced he was “suspending” gas exploration, to give time for talks with Greece and Germany. This was a positive response a request made by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The matter changed last week, when Greece and Egypt signed a deal for an exclusive economic zone in the region. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry denounced the maritime deal, describing it as “null and void.”

French President Emmanuel Macron last month called for sanctions against Turkey, saying it was “not acceptable for the maritime space of a European Union member state to be violated or threatened.”

Turkey has rejected the criticism, claiming that it is well within its rights to explore areas claimed by Cyprus and Greece.

The EU claimed on Tuesday, that recent developments in the eastern Mediterranean were “extremely worrying”, and warned of escalating tensions between Turkey and Greece.

”What is needed to be done, is to engage in solving all the open issues in line with principles of good neighbourly relations, international law, and positive engagement”, said European Commission Foreign Affairs spokesman, Peter Stano.