Greece has continued its provocative rhetoric and uncompromising stance since exploratory talks were held in January, sources from the Turkish defense ministry stated on Sunday, adding that Athens is misleading the international community with its remarks.
Greece last week protested Turkey's deployment of the TCG Çeşme research vessel in what it called an "unnecessary" move. Athens said that although the ship was operating in international waters, the responsibility for issuing maritime advisories in that part of the Aegean fell to Greece.
“The TCG Çeşme research vessel has started its hydrographic scientific and technical survey in international waters in the northern Aegean,” the sources said, adding that the ship will continue its works until March 2.
The ship's activities do not include ocean floor research, which is "completely consistent with the 1976 Bern Agreement,” the sources said in criticizing the remarks by the Greek side.
The Turkish sources reminded how Athens recently carried out similar activities.
“The HS Naftilos research vessel of the Greek navy has conducted similar works in open seas including international waters north and west of Lesvos (Lesbos-Midilli) and north of Chios (Sakız) and the Icaria (Ahikerya) islands,” sources stated.
The sources indicated that Greece’s statements asserting that Turkey is raising tensions do not reflect the truth and that Ankara “watches the remarks, which are obviously made to mislead the international community, with regret and astonishment.”
The statement by Turkish sources comes as the NATO allies seek to resume talks over a long-standing maritime dispute.
After a five-year pause and months of tensions over overlapping claims for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean last year, Greek and Turkish officials met in Istanbul on Jan. 25 to discuss the web of problems as part of exploratory talks.
The meeting in Istanbul ended after a few hours and the two countries, at odds over a number of decades-old issues including the extent of their continental shelves, have agreed to meet again in Athens.
Since 2002, the two countries have held dozens of rounds of talks to try to lay the groundwork for full negotiations over the issue. Obstacles remain, however, including what each side is willing to discuss.
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