Greece protested to Turkey on Thursday over the country’s announced plans for an hydrographic survey in the center of the Aegean Sea.
The Foreign Ministry in Athens lodged an official demarche with Turkey’s Foreign Ministry through its embassy in Ankara.
The hydrographic survey is planned to take place between the Greek islands of Limnos, Skyros and Alonnisos from Thursday to March 2.
The navigational directive concerns international waters; however, Athens denounced it as invalid and illegal.
According to the Ministry’s spokesperson, Alexandros Papaioannou, the Izmir Station does not have the authority to issue Navtexes for the area in question.
Officials in Ankara said recently that the surveys by the vessel Cesme will be restricted to the surface of the sea, as the vessel will not lay its cables on the seabed.
The Cesme carried out hydrographic surveys in the same area in 2018 under the close monitoring of Hellenic Navy ships.
Analysts say the Turkish Navtex came as a surprise as the two Aegean neighbors are — supposedly — engaged in efforts to ease tensions and intensify their diplomatic contact.
Exploratory talks continue in March
Papaioannou also said that Greece has suggested dates for the 62nd round of the exploratory talks with Turkey, but has not yet received 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 in late January after a five-year hiatus.
Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, a close associate of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that “it is possible to solve all problems.”
“Under the strong leadership of our President, it is possible to solve all problems, including the Aegean, and we have our will for this.
“Regional peace and stability is in everyone’s interest,” Kalin added.
Greece draws “red lines”
Greece has stated that it is coming to the exploratory contacts with confidence, in good faith, and in both a spirit of cooperation and a constructive climate.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias emphasized in late January that there are some issues which “are not up for discussion,” however.
He explained that these include “national sovereignty and the demilitarization of Greek islands.”
In any event, continued the Minister, exploratory talks “are not negotiations.”
He stressed that “they are informal, there are no minutes taken during the meetings, and neither side has to assume responsibilities or make commitments.”
Potential future negotiations with Turkey will have to focus on the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, based on International Law, stressed Dendias.