eKathimerini — Athens has cancelled the license it granted to the Meteor ship to conduct research on behalf of the University of Heidelberg in the Aegean Sea after Turkey on Wednesday disputed Greece’s sovereign rights by granting its own permits to the German vessel.
Ankara issued a navigational telex (Navtex) on Wednesday reserving the Aegean Sea in its entirety for scientific research and granted the Meteor the right to conduct operations, implying that Turkey and not Greece has the sovereign right to issue such licenses.
Last Friday, the Meteor, which is owned by the Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education, was harassed in the sea area between Samothrace and Limnos in the northern Aegean by the Turkish coast guard, which warned the captain to leave, saying the vessel was in Turkish waters.
However, the Meteor had been granted all the necessary permits from the Greek Foreign Ministry to conduct research in the northern Aegean.
Referring to the incident last week, Greek military officials said it was a standard Turkish tactic to challenge Greece’s sovereign rights in the Aegean.
After the incident, the German Foreign Ministry reportedly appealed to Turkish authorities, which in turn gave their “permission” to the German ship to conduct research in a region within Greece’s jurisdiction that coincides with the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).
This turn of events prompted the Greek Foreign Ministry to cancel the permits it had given the Germans, who, in the meantime, have stopped their mission in the northern Aegean.
Greece has reported the issue to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) rather than follow the usual course of action in these situations by issuing its own Navtex in response.
At the same, Turkey made an even more emphatic statement with regard to Cyprus by issuing another Navtex reserving an area covering 41,000 square kilometers off its southern coast, including almost the entirety of the island’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
This area includes Plot 6, where the Saipem 12000 deepwater drillship of the French-Italian consortium of energy giants Total and ENI has started drilling for hydrocarbons.
According to Ankara’s Navtex, the area was reserved so that a warship can tow an underwater device.
The Turkish plan of action stipulates that the warship will pass by the Saipem at a distance of 14 kilometers.