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GREECE, TURKEY TENSION UP ON DRILLING

Greece’s prime minister has convened the government’s national security council amid growing tensions with Turkey over drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey announced a research vessel would be conducting exploratory drilling in an area between Cyprus and Greece, the latest move in an ongoing territorial dispute between the two countries, according to a report from Euronews.


Turkey issued a Navtex, or international maritime safety message, announcing its research vessel Oruc Reis and two auxiliary vessels would be conducting exploratory drilling from Monday 10 August until 23 August.


Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Twitter that the Oruc Reis had arrived in its area of operation from its anchorage off Turkey’s southern coast, saying “83 million back the Oruc Reis,” referring to Turkey’s population.


The move to begin exploratory drilling comes amid anger on the Turkish side over a deal signed between Greece and Egypt on economic zones for drilling rights and maritime boundaries, which Turkey claims is intended to keep it out of the Eastern Mediterranean.


Last year, Turkey signed a similar deal with the UN-backed Libyan government in Tripoli, sparking outrage in Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, who all said it infringed on their economic rights in the Mediterranean. The European Union says it’s a violation of international law that threatens stability in the region.


Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke on Monday morning with European Council President Charles Michel, informing him about the Greek-Egyptian agreement and the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, officials said. He was scheduled to speak to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday afternoon.


The two sides had been in negotiations in Berlin and were on the verge of issuing a joint statement, but the Greek-Egyptian deal led to Turkey halting the talks.


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