For Turkey, Greece lays a maximalist claim over the waters of the Mediterranean, while Egypt plays a dog in the manger to obstruct Ankara's efforts in the region.

Turkey's navy issued an advisory on Monday: it warned that a Turkish ship would be carrying out a seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean over the next two weeks.

It came after a brief 'good-will' suspension of drilling operations in the Mediterranean. Ankara said it was keen to resolve the maritime dispute with Greece, but that Athens did not 'reciprocate' well.

Here are some important facts about the geopolitical wrangling that is being played out along the maritime routes of the Mediterranean.

Why did Turkey resume drilling in Eastern Mediterranean?

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry shared a map on Monday that showed the planned offshore survey activity of its seismic research vessel, Oruc Reis, within the country’s continental shelf and borders of its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Talking about the issue, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official, Cagatay Erciyes, said that the Oruc Reis had launched its offshore survey activity in the Turkish Continental Shelf, and that it had been declared to the United Nations.

According to Erciyes, Greece has made a 'big fuss' over Turkey's drilling activity because of a 10-square-kilometre (3.86-square-mile) Greek island named Kastellorizo, which lies 2 kilometres (1.24 miles) away from the Turkish mainland and 580 kilometres (360 miles) from the Greek mainland.

"Greece claims 40,000 km2 of maritime jurisdiction area due to this tiny island and attempts to stop the Oruc Reis and block Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Erciyes.

"This maximalist claim is not compatible with international law. It is against the principle of equity. Yet Greece asks the EU and US to support this claim and put pressure on Turkey to cease its legitimate offshore activities. This is not acceptable and reasonable."

He also stressed that these countries should instead ask Greece to stop its unjust, inequitable and absurd claims.

"It is Greece, not Turkey who creates tensions in the area due to such maximalist claims," he explained.

In a Twitter post, Erciyes shared information on maritime jurisdiction areas and how they should be delimited based on the principle of equity.

How the Greece-Egypt maritime deal violates international law

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Monday that Greece and Egypt are violating the rights and continental shelves of Turkey and Libya by signing a maritime deal on exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

During an exclusive interview with the Anadolu Agency, the foreign minister stressed that the text and map of the agreement had yet to be revealed, adding: "However, it's obvious by the given coordinates that the deal not only violates the rights and continental shelf of Turkey but also of Libya."

"Hence, an agreement that violates our continental shelf, which we have reported to the UN, is null and void and the reason why we've come to this point is that countries like Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration, are trying to sign agreements with Egypt and Israel while ignoring Turkey". 

"We'll continue to show them and the world that this agreement is null and void on the table and in the field," he added.

Egypt announced last Thursday that it had signed a bilateral agreement with Greece on the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions between the two countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the "so-called agreement", asserting that Greece and Egypt had no mutual sea border and that the deal was "null and void" for Ankara.

It added that the demarcated area in the agreement was located on Turkey's continental shelf, as Ankara had reported to the UN.

What is Turkey's maritime deal with Libya?

Greece, Egypt, Israel and the Greek Cypriot Administration (GCA) have previously signed maritime agreements, excluding Turkey, to draw up respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the Eastern Mediterranean, launching their own exploration efforts.

Before the Turkish-Libyan maritime deal, Greece, Israel and the GCA were trying to outmanoeuvre Ankara by designating their own EEZs, signing pacts among themselves.  

Furthermore, the three Mediterranean powers have established a consortium through which they have developed the EastMed pipeline project, aiming to transport the newly discovered gas reserves from the Eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe.

While the route of the pipeline goes through Turkey’s EEZs, Ankara was not consulted on the implementation of the project. This angered the Turkish state which subsequently went on to develop its own plan to block the EastMed project by reaching an understanding with Libya’s UN-recognised Tripoli government.

How Greece remained hostile, while Turkey offered a diplomatic solution

Last month, following Athens’ objection to Turkey’s seismic survey in an area around the southern island of Meis, or Kastellerizo, Germany was quick to demonstrate diplomatic efforts in order to defuse tensions between the two countries.

In order to reach a good-natured solution to the conflict, Turkey paused its energy-exploration operations in the contested area while talks with Greece were pending.

Presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his aides to "be constructive and put this on hold for some time".

Greece, however, showed no interest in diplomacy and cut a side deal with Egypt. Turkey was quick to reject the Athens-Cairo maritime delimitation deal, saying that the bilateral agreement violated Ankara's continental shelf and maritime rights. This further aggravated tensions between the two neighbours.

Source: TRT World