German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Greece and is also scheduled to visit Turkey on Tuesday in an effort to calm rising tensions between the two countries over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, where both are holding naval drills.
“The current situation in the eastern Mediterranean is equivalent to playing with fire. Every little spark can lead to catastrophe,” said Maas after meeting his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, reported Reuters.
The situation “concerns the European family as a whole, it concerns the E.U.’s sovereign rights, its … security,” said Maas.
The European Union is backing member nation Greece in the dispute, and European foreign ministers are to discuss the issue at a meeting in Berlin on Thursday and Friday.
Turkey began surveying for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean earlier this month in an area claimed by Greece.
Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez tweeted at the time that the Oruç Reis research vessel had lowered seismic cables into the sea.
Turkey issued a Navtex advisory on Sunday that it was extending the vessel’s operations until Aug. 27, and Greece responded with its own advisory that it will be holding military exercises in the same area off of Crete, according to the report.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Greece of “sowing chaos” and warned it would be left isolated. Turkey issued another Navtex that it would be holding military drills in the same area.
Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas has said Greece is “responding calmly and with readiness both on a diplomatic and on an operational level,” and will defend its sovereignty.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat tweeted earlier in August when the tensions flared over the Oruç Reis that “Israel follows closely as tension arises in the eastern Mediterranean. Israel expresses its full support and solidarity with Greece in its maritime zones and its right to delimit its [exclusive economic zone].”