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Erdoan and Merkel discuss the Eastern Mediterranean



Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean Crisis

The tension between Turkey and Greece over their right to explore the energy resources of the Eastern Mediterranean has seriously intensified in recent months. The latest developments leading to this escalation are briefly as follows:

On July 21, Turkey issued its first Navtex alert for the exploration activities of the seismic vessel Oru Reis in the eastern Mediterranean.

On July 28, Turkey announced after Germany’s diplomatic efforts that it was suspending hydrocarbon exploration activities and said it was ready to hold talks with Greece.

On August 6, Greece and Egypt signed a maritime border agreement.

On August 10, Turkey announced that its drillship Oru Reis would resume energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. He said the ship will continue working with the Cengiz Han and Ataman ships until August 23.

On August 14, foreign miners in the EU discussed the crisis at an extraordinary meeting, calling on Turkey to end oil exploration activities in the disputed waters.

On August 16, Turkey released a Navtex, announcing that its Yavuz drill vessel will continue to explore for energy resources off the island of Cyprus.

On August 23, Turkey released another Navtex, stating that the ship Oru Reis would continue operations until August 27.

On August 24, Greece organized joint naval exercises with the United States in the south of the island of Crete. A day later, Turkey led naval exercises with Italy.

On August 25, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Athens and Ankara to encourage the two countries to have direct talks. On the same day, Turkey organized replenishment exercises with Italy in the eastern Mediterranean.

On August 26, US President Donald Trump held telephone talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, urging them to reduce tensions and begin dialogue. On the same day, Turkey and the United States conducted joint maritime exercises.

On August 27 and 28, EU foreign ministers brought the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean to the top of their agenda. Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said after the meeting that Turkish ships could face penalties if they continued their oil and gas activities. Turkish Ministry of National Defense on August 28 ad that he intercepted six F-16 fighter jets from Greece, which he said were approaching the area where Turkey had issued a Navtex.

On September 1, the United States lifted the arms embargo in southern Cyprus.

On September 2, Turkey issued two Navtex alerts for Russian gunnery exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. It was said that Russia will conduct exercises in two different areas corresponding to Turkey’s oil exploration activities on the east and west of the island of Cyprus.

On September 3, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “Following my discussions with the Greek and Turkish leaders, the two Allies agreed to start technical talks at NATO to establish mechanisms for military deconfliction in order to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents “.

On September 4, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece would only enter into dialogue with Turkey if it “stops provocations” in the eastern Mediterranean. Shortly before this statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “Turkey is ready to enter into dialogue with Greece without any preconditions, in order to find lasting, just and equitable solutions to all the outstanding issues between Turkey and Greece ”.

On September 8, the Anadolu National Agency (AA) announced that the meeting between military delegations from Turkey and Greece had been postponed to September 10.

On September 10, military delegations from Turkey and Greece held technical talks at NATO headquarters to prevent a military engagement.

On September 15, issuing a new NAVTEX alert for the island of Chios in Greece, Turkey argued that Greece had militarized the island of Chios in violation of the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923.

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