Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have prevented an imminent military conflict between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean, Tuesday night, according to media reports. To “Image”-Information, warships and fighter jets are said to have already been on the way.
The dispute over natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean had recently intensified: numerous ships of the Turkish Navy had been moving in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean south of the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete since Tuesday. Numerous ships of the Greek Navy are also in the region, as reported by the Greek state television. As the office of Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Wednesday, Prime Minister Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) informed the phone about the reasons for these movements.
According to “Bild” information, Merkel also phoned the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before an escalation could occur. The deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer did not want to confirm that she mediated between the two and that the Turkish navy subsequently canceled her maneuver. It only confirmed calls to Mitsotakis and Erdogan, which concerned the situation in the eastern Mediterranean.
Warnings from Greece
Greece had warned Turkey in the past few months not to send ships to the region to search for natural gas.
The Turkish authorities had announced that the research ship Oruc Reis would start new seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean from Tuesday. According to the website “marinetraffic.com”, the Oruc Reis was on the road outside Antalya, southern Turkey, on Wednesday. Turkish broadcaster TRT reported that the seismic surveys had not yet started.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had already announced in January to search for natural gas “as soon as possible” in an area agreed with Libya. The project also affects potentially natural gas-rich regions south of Crete, which from a Greek perspective belong to the so-called Exclusive Economic Zone of the EU country. According to the Turkish reading, islands like Crete have territorial waters, but they do not have an exclusive economic zone. Ankara is already drilling outside Cyprus without permission from the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. The EU countries had therefore created a legal framework for sanctions against Turkey. (dpa, ken)