Greek PM closely monitored Turkish drillship movement

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was kept briefed on the movements of Turkish drillship Oruç Reis from the hour it entered Greek waters last week in what Mitsotakis said could have been an attempt to test his country’s readiness, Greek daily Kathimerini reported on Monday.

The Hellenic Navy dispatched a frigate, the HS Nikiforos Fokas, and F-16 fighters to track the Oruç Reis after it entered waters near the island of Kastellorizo east of Crete. The infringement comes after months of rising tensions over disputed maritime jurisdictions in the area, large parts of which were claimed by Turkey in a deal struck with Libya in November.

“We monitored it from the very first hour. Such situations are an exercise in composure because the decisions you have to take must be considered very carefully,” Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told Greek channel Skai TV.

“Our response had to be immediate because … we knew that our reflexes were being tested,” he said.

The minister said the Turkish vessel had most likely strayed into Greek waters due to bad weather, noting that it was not accompanied by the Turkish navy ships that have accompanied drillships on previous forays into disputed areas.

But he said the Greek frigate had been stationed close to the area specifically to counter possible Turkish infringements and that it was possible the Oruç Reıs had sailed into Greek waters as a deliberate test.