Ankara issues Navtex blocking off seas near Crete – Greek Reporter

Ankara issued a Navtex, an advisory to ships including coordinates, blocking off a large maritime area near three Greek islands just hours before a key meeting between the Greek and Turkish leaders on Wednesday, the Greek Reporter said.

The hydrographic station in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya notified ships that a large area east of the Greek islands of Crete, Karpathos and Rhodes would be blocked off for use by Turkish navy, the report said.

The Greek Reporter said Greece held an undisputed claim to sovereignty over that area.

But an agreement signed by Turkey and Libya last week could call that into question if ratified. The two countries agreed on a maritime boundary that overlaps with the Greek claims, with Turkey’s area extending close to Crete.

The agreement has received widespread international criticism with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying he hoped talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan planned at NATO’s summit in London on Wednesday would help ease tensions.

But the Navtex announcing that the area near Crete will be blocked off for two hours on Thursday sends a message that Turkey is not willing to back down on the issue, the Greek Reporter said.