ATHENS – Greece warned Thursday it will do “whatever is necessary” to defend its sovereign rights in response to plans by neighboring Turkey to proceed with an oil-and-gas research mission south of Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean.
The dispute over seabed mineral rights has led to increased navy deployments by both NATO members in the region, where a Turkish research vessel, the Oruc Reis, is being prepared for a survey mission.
Turkey has drawn growing criticism from Western allies, with French President Emmanuel Macron joining calls for European Union sanctions against Ankara if the dispute escalates further.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas described the mission as a direct violation of Greek sovereignty and that of Greek ally Cyprus.
“The government is underlining to all parties that Greece will not accept a violation of its sovereignty and will do whatever is necessary to defend its sovereign rights,” Petsas said.
Macron said sanctions now appeared necessary.
“It is not acceptable for the maritime space of a Union member state to be violated or threatened. Those responsible must be sanctioned,” Macron said before talks in Paris with Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential Elysee Palace
Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over sea boundaries but recent discoveries of natural gas and drilling plans across the East Mediterranean have exacerbated the dispute.