Turkey’s decision to conduct new seismic exploration surveys of the seabed near the Greek island of Kastellorizo comes as a “very bad surprise,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini in an interview as tensions remain high in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Ankara issued a new Navtex advisory for its Oruc Reis research boat late on 11 October. The advisory is set to last until Thursday, and Turkish officials have said that the seismic surveys have already got underway.
“It came as a surprise – a very bad surprise. This back and forth of de-escalation and escalation is difficult to understand and leads to a dead end,” Maas told the newspaper.Tensions between Ankara and Athens flared throughout the summer after Turkish research vessels conducted several seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The European Union has strongly criticized Turkey’s actions, although Brussels has yet to slap sanctions on Ankara.
Maas said that a decision on whether to levy punitive measures against Turkey might be taken in December.