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Greece protests against Turkish hydrographic survey in Aegean Sea

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Greece protests against Turkey’s new investigation into the Aegean Sea. Credit: Hellenic Navy

Greece protested Thursday to Turkey against the plans announced by the country for a hydrographic survey in the center of the Aegean Sea.

The Foreign Ministry in Athens, filed an official application with the Turkish Foreign Ministry through its embassy in Ankara.

The hydrographic survey is scheduled to take place between the Greek islands of Limnos, Skyros and Alonnisos from Thursday to March 2.

The navigation directive concerns international waters; however, Athens denounced it as invalid and illegal.

According to ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou, Izmir station does not have the power to issue Navtex for the area in question.

Ankara officials recently said that the Cesme vessel’s surveys will be limited to the sea surface because the vessel will not lay its cables on the seabed.

Cesme carried out hydrographic surveys in the same area in 2018 under the close surveillance of Hellenic Navy vessels.

Analysts say the Turkish Navtex came as a surprise as the two Aegean neighbors are – supposedly – engaged in efforts to ease tensions and intensify diplomatic contacts.

Exploratory talks continue in March

Papaioannou also said Greece had suggested dates for the 62nd round of exploratory talks with Turkey, but had yet to receive a response.

He added, however, that it will be held in the first week of March.

The 61st round of talks was held in Istanbul at the end of January after a five-year hiatus.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, a close associate of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it was possible to resolve all issues.

Under the strong leadership of our President, it is possible to solve any problem, including the Aegean Sea, and we have our will in this regard.

Regional peace and stability are in everyone’s interest, Kalin added.

Greece draws “red lines”

Greece said it was approaching exploratory contacts with confidence, in good faith and in a spirit of cooperation and in a constructive atmosphere.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias underlined at the end of January that some issues are not for debate, ”however.

He explained that these include national sovereignty and the demilitarization of the Greek islands.

Either way, the minister continued, exploratory talks are not negotiations.

He stressed that they are informal, that no minutes are taken during meetings and that neither party should take responsibility or make commitments.

Potential future negotiations with Turkey will have to focus on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf of the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, on the basis of international law, Dendias said.

Related: Are the Greece-Turkey talks doomed to failure?

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