The nervous stand-off between Greek and Turkish warships in the eastern Mediterranean continues, as Turkish research ship Oruc Reis has been sailing in the Greek waters since Monday afternoon, escorted by five Turkish warships and two smaller research ships, the Ataman and the Cengiz Han.
The research ship is located 50 miles inside the Greek continental shelf and is heading southwest. It is estimated that it will take about 10 hours to reach the western limit of the area described in Navtex.
Apart from the five warships that are sailing with the Oruc Reis it is believed that a small flotilla of Turkish ships are following close behind it.
Around the time it entered the area of the Greek continental shelf, originating from the Cypriot EEZ, the Oruc Reis laid cables in the sea, a preparatory procedure before the start of research. Turkish warships are accompanying the Oruc Reis research ship with Greek warships closely monitoring and recording the movements of the Turkish flotilla. The crew of the Oruc Reis, following instructions from Ankara, has reopened the ship’s transmitter and its course is recorded with a short delay on websites such as marinetraffic.
Athens’ goal at this stage is to prevent illegal Turkish actions. The red line is reportedly the start by the Turkish vessel of seismic surveys in an area of the Greek continental shelf. In the event that the Oruc Reis attempts to start seismic activities in the area that Athens considers to have sovereign rights over as provided by international law, the Greek side will react.
A relevant discussion took place at noon on Monday at the Government Council on Foreign Affairs and Defence, which convened at the Maximos Palace under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “Everything will be fine, everything will be fine,” said the Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros, who went to Maximos mansion in a camouflage uniform, sending an obvious message of readiness.