Thursday, Mar 04
Greece carries out exercises to escalate tension in Aegean, say Turkish sources

Greece carries out exercises to escalate tension in Aegean, say Turkish sources

Athens carries out exercises, submarine missions aimed at escalating tension in Aegean, per Turkish sources.
22.02.2021 - 10:45

Since the restart of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece this year, Greece has continued to escalate tension in the region, according to Turkish sources.

Greece “has carried out many activities from exercises to submarine missions aimed at escalating tension in the Aegean, and continued its uncompromising attitude,” said sources from the Turkish National Defense Ministry.

Turkey’s TCG Cesme research vessel started its scientific and technical survey regarding hydrography in the international waters of northern Aegean.

The TCG Cesme vessel’s research was described as “a move that does not facilitate the improvement of relations between the two countries” in statements made by Greece.

Asked about Turkey’s response to the Greek statements, the sources from the ministry, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said that the TCG Cesme research vessel will carry out scientific and technical research in northern Aegean until March 2 as part of its annual activity program.

The sources emphasized that the studies that did not cover the seabed were carried out in full compliance with the 1976 Bern Agreement.

According to the ministry sources, the HS Naftilos research ship of the Greek Navy carried out similar researches in areas north and west of the Lesbos island and north of Chios and Ahikerya (Icaria) islands, which also include international waters, between November-December 2020.

The sources also pointed out that Greece’s AEGAEO research vessel carried out underwater research in areas which also include the international waters between the Crete island and the Peloponnese peninsula following the start of exploratory talks between Ankara and Athens on Jan. 25.

“Currently, Greece continues its underwater activities, which it started in areas north of Crete with a NAVTEX naval alert on Feb. 18, 2021, and it is not clear when it will end,” the sources added.

The ministry underlined that TCG Cesme’s activities are “scientific and technical researches carried out in full compliance with international law and mutual agreements.”

“Greece’s statements that we have carried out actions that escalate tension do not reflect the truth,” the sources said.

“During a period when exploratory talks are ongoing between our countries, these statements made by Greece clearly with the intention of publicly misleading the international community are followed with regret and astonishment.”

“These statements are a clear indication of Greece’s pro-tension and uncompromising attitude, which does not wish to resolve problems through negotiations and dialogue,” the sources added.

GREECE TRYING TO ESCALATE TENSION

The ministry sources also said that Greece has carried out an exercise with 20 ships and many air elements in the area which also includes the international waters northwest of the Skyros island, since Jan. 25, when the consultations started.

The sources also recalled that in its submarine notices on activities between Feb. 10-17, Greece announced the islands of Bozbaba (Agios Efstratios), Samothrace, Limnos, Thasos, Lesbos, Chios, Psara, Ahikeria, and Samos islands – which holds non-military status – within its territorial waters.

According to the ministry, Greece was the party trying to escalate tension as it was revealed when Greece issued a submarine notice that it will hold a shooting training in the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean between March 17 and April 27, 2021 and it declared the islands of Lemnos, Bozbaba, Lesbos, Meis, Psara, Chios, and Samothrace – which hold a non-military status – within its own territorial waters.

Despite Greece’s “provocative actions” during the exploratory talks, Turkey continues to keep its calm attitude to solve problems with “mutual dialogue and negotiations,” the sources added.

“Our expectation from Greece in return for our constructive attitude that we have been maintaining from the beginning is that it will give up its uncompromising attitude and its actions and discourses that escalate tension, and endeavor to solve the problems with a sincere approach through dialogue and negotiations,” the source added.