The TCG Cesme, a Turkish seismographic research vessel, will conclude its Aegean Sea voyage today. Ostensibly launched to conduct scientific
The TCG Cesme, a Turkish seismographic research vessel, will conclude its Aegean Sea voyage today.
Ostensibly launched to conduct scientific and technical research on earthquakes that are frequent in the area, Greece argues that the voyage is an attempt by Turkey to prepare for maritime drilling, undermining recently renewed dialogue between Ankara and Athens aimed at ending the long-running dispute over maritime rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. Tensions were further raised after four Greek fighter jets intercepted the vessel last week, performing fly-bys and dropping flares within two miles of the ship.
Expect this incident to severely hinder relations between Greece and Turkey. Representatives of the two sides are scheduled to meet in Athens in early March and the talks are likely to be dominated by Cesme’s voyage and the Greek military response. Neither nation has expressed willingness to accept responsibility for the incident or is unlikely to back down in these talks. As such, mediation will likely fall to the EU, which has planned a session in late March to discuss easing regional tensions. Observers hope the EU will advocate for the partition of regional waters as a remedy for the dispute.
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