“Israel expresses its full support and solidarity with Greece in its maritime zones and its right to delimit its Exclusive Economic Zone.”Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat
The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said it “expresses its full support” for Greece amid an escalating dispute with neighboring Turkey over energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea.
“Israel follows closely as tension arises in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement.
“Israel expresses its full support and solidarity with Greece in its maritime zones and its right to delimit its Exclusive Economic Zone,” he added.
According to international law, an EEZ refers to a coastal country assuming “jurisdiction over the exploration and exploitation of marine resources in its adjacent section of the continental shelf, taken to be a band extending 200 miles (322 kilometers) from the shore.”
Despite years of friendly relations, ties between Israel and Turkey have deteriorated over the last decade, with the rise of Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan to power. The two countries, however, maintain strong relations on defense and economic issues.
The statement comes as Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is due to meet with his American counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Vienna on Friday, August 14, as part of a diplomatic effort to mobilize the international community against Ankara.
On Monday, ties between the two countries hit a new low after Turkey deployed a seismic research vessel, escorted by warships, to the Aegean Sea, believed to hold abundant natural gas resources.
“We call on Turkey to leave the Greek continental shelf without delay,” Dendias said. “We make it clear that Greece will defend its sovereignty,” he added.
Turkey has announced that the vessel would carry out activities between August 10 and 23.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday that his country would step up energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and would not “compromise” its rights.
“We will conduct all kinds of seismic research, drilling activities. Our determination is absolute,” Cavusoglu told reporters.
“We will defend the rights of Turkey … in the eastern Mediterranean and we will not compromise in any way on this,” he said.
France, meanwhile, will increase its military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, calling on Turkey to halt oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters with Greece.
The French leader voiced concern over “unilateral” exploration by Turkey in a call with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Macron’s office said in a statement. It added that prospecting should “cease in order to allow a peaceful dialogue” between the neighboring NATO members.
France will “temporarily reinforce” its military presence, Macron’s statement said, to “monitor the situation in the region and mark its determination to uphold international law.”
Macron called last month for EU sanctions against Turkey for what he described as “violations” of Greek and Cypriot sovereignty over their territorial waters. Relations between Paris and Ankara have also frayed over the conflict in Libya.
Portions of this article were originally published by i24NEWS.