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Turkey dismisses Greek accusations over research ship July 17, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Turkey, Yunanistan.
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Turkey has denied Greek accusations that a Turkish naval research ship is conducting a geological survey in a disputed area of the northern Aegean Sea.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the Turkish naval research vessel TCG Çeşme was conducting activities outside Greece’s territorial waters, but said the area was still within the Greek continental shelf, the stretch of seabed that Athens claims the rights to for exploration and exploitation of potential mineral and fossil fuel deposits.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry, however, disputed the claim, saying in a statement released late on Thursday that neither Turkey nor Greece has maritime jurisdiction over the Aegean beyond territorial waters. “Therefore, the maritime area lying beyond territorial waters in the Aegean Sea has the status of high seas,” it said. According to the statement, the TCG Çeşme is updating maritime navigation charts in accordance with normal naval activities, similar to surveys regularly conducted by Greece in the international waters of the Aegean Sea.

The statement further noted that Turkey and Greece both promised under a 1976 agreement to refrain from any seismic research activity beyond their territorial waters in the Aegean Sea until a dispute on the continental shelf is resolved. “Turkey fully respects this agreement,” said the statement. “Therefore the Greek media qualifying the survey of the TCG Çeşme as geological research in connection with the Aegean continental shelf is totally unfounded. This information and our views have also been transmitted to the Greek Foreign Ministry,” it added.

Turkey and Greece are at odds over the delimitation of the Aegean continental shelf, a dispute that concerns Turkish and Greek rights to economic exploitation of resources on and under the Aegean seabed in an area that stretches between their territorial waters and the high seas.

The two neighbors, which have long been at odds over territorial rights in the Aegean, witnessed escalated tension over the delimitation of the continental shelf in the 1980s, when the Aegean was believed to hold rich oil reserves.

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