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Greece ‘readies its navy’ in response to Turkey’s survey of contested continental shelf

Athens has reportedly set its naval fleet to a state of heightened readiness as both Greece and Cyprus tighten maritime security amid a growing dispute with Turkey over a contested sea shelf region, according to the AFP.

The navies of Greece and Cyprus issued a Navigation Telex (Navtex) high alert on Wednesday, in response to Turkey issuing a Navtex of its own the day before over planned drilling ship explorations in the area. The European Commission criticized Ankara’s Navtex over Turkish seismic surveys in the area, saying it conveys “the wrong message.”

The current friction is focused on the southern Aegean Sea, which all three nations border. Turkish energy exploration activities there have been contested by Athens, which claims that Ankara aims to illegally exploit the Greek continental sea shelf.

“We call on Turkey to immediately cease these illegal actions which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the area,” a statement issued by the Greek Foreign Ministry said.

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The current friction is focused on the southern Aegean Sea, which all three nations border. Turkish energy exploration activities there have been contested by Athens, which claims that Ankara aims to illegally exploit the Greek continental sea shelf.

“We call on Turkey to immediately cease these illegal actions which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the area,” a statement issued by the Greek Foreign Ministry said.

Cyprus has its own gas-extracting ventures in that particular sector, and has been vocally alarmed by Turkey’s maritime activities. “Forty six years after the Turkish invasion, Cyprus is experiencing a new aggression, this time extending to the sea surrounding Cyprus,” Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday, while marking the anniversary of the events of 1974.

Athens has already protested Turkey’s actions before the UN, EU, and NATO, and has called for sanctions. The Turkish Foreign Ministry labeled Greece’s objections “maximalist,” and said in a statement that it considers the area in question to be within Turkey’s continental shelf. It added that it will be surveying the area until August 2.

The clash over claims to undersea resources is the latest chapter in the contentious and fragile relations between Athens and Ankara, which have been under particular strain due to competing interests in Cyprus for decades, and more recently over the migrant crisis in Europe.

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