GREEK - TURKISH STANDOFF
Threat of war in the Aegean
The "moratorium" regarding cancelling of military exercises announced by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not age well. Just a few hours later, Turkey issued a navigation warning (NAVTEX) announcing naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean for October 27-28, on the Greek National Holiday.
On Friday, Stoltenberg told reporters that "both Greece and Turkey have decided to cancel military exercises which were planned for next week."
According to Stoltenberg, the military exercises would be canceled on the national holidays of the two countries, Greece on october 28 and Turkey October 29.
"These are steps in the right direction, they help to reduce the risks of incidents and accidents," he added, expressing hope that the move would have a positive effect on German-mediated efforts to ease tensions between the two NATO allies.
It must be noted that Turkey issued the two NAVTEX reportedly as reaction of planned military exercises by the Greek Armed Forces. It demands the demilitarization of the islands of Limnos, Samothraki and Ai Stratis, claiming that Greece violates the de-militarized status of some islands contrary to the Treaty of Lausanne.
Greek and Turkish Navy forces are in standoff near the island of Kastellorizo due to the activities of Turkish seismic vessel Oruc Reis. At the same time, Ankara has leaked to the press that it will extend the operation of the vessel in Greek maritime zone close South of Kastellorizo and East of Rhodes and Crete, Crete and Rhodes.
Greece said that no military exercise was scheduled for this week, and Turkey issued the NAVTEX that will bring its Navy very close to Kastellorizo.
Greek ambassador to Turkey submitted a demarche to the Foriegn Ministry in Ankara.
As Turkish warships are escorting the Oruc Reis, the Greek Navy has also deployed warships in the area off Kastellorizo, with the naval forces of the two countries lined up against each other.
The presence of Oruc Reis in the East Mediterranean Sea have again led to a standoff of Greek and Turkish military forces. Athens has warned that it is considering all possible scenarios, including military ones, to protect its sovereign rights.
The Greek Armed Forces have been set on high alert and the General Staff published for the first time pictures of the Navy fleet monitoring the Turkish flotilla escorting the Oruc Reis.
At least 5 Greek warships have built a "protection wall" at the Greek "red line", the territorial waters of 6 nautical miles off Kastellorizo.