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Deployment of Turkish research vessels met with protest from Greece

Athens has protested Turkey’s deployment of a research vessel in the Aegean Sea amid talks on maritime disputes between the two NATO allies.

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On 18 February, Greece expressed its protest over Turkey’s deployment of a research vessel in a part of the Aegean Sea considered as international waters, at a period when the two allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been resuming talks over maritime disputes. While the Greek Foreign Ministry made a verbal complaint towards Turkish officials, government spokesman Christos Tarantilis deemed the development as an unnecessary move that does not contribute to positive sentiments.

The research vessel called TCG Çeşme will be undertaking hydrographic surveys between 18 February and 2 March in an area located in international waters. Diplomatic sources from Turkey indicate that the TCG Çeşme vessel would be conducting scientific surveys similar to those done recently by Greece, in the context of a 1976 agreement between both countries. Diplomatic sources also underline that oceanographic research in international waters is not related to the continental shelf dispute.

Greek officials object that even though the research is conducted in international waters, maritime advisories issued in the area of research are determined by Greece.

On 25 January, after five years of pause, Turkish and Greek officials met in Istanbul to restart talks on the delimitation of maritime zones, which have been the center of tension between the two countries in the East Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. The meeting, which ended after a few hours, ended and both countries agreed to meet again for talks in Athens. Alexandros Papaioannou, the Spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry, has said Athens gave an invitation to Ankara suggesting the continuation of talks in early March.

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