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Turkey tells Israel, Greece, EU to seek east Med permission

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Turkey has told Israel, Greece and the European Union to seek its permission before assuming work on a proposed undersea power cable in disputed eastern Mediterranean waters, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Turkish state media.

Cyprus, Israel and Greece last week signed an initial agreement on laying the world’s longest undersea power cable linking their electricity grids.

But the proposed link is set to run through contested waters at the center of last year’s tensions between Turkey and Greece linked to Ankara’s search for natural gas.

In a diplomatic note sent to the two countries’ embassies and the EU delegation, Ankara said the three must seek its permission before conducting any work on Turkey’s continental shelf, state news agency Anadolu reported, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.

The 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) EuroAsia Interconnector’s projected plans show it passing through Turkey’s continental shelf, the TRT Haber state broadcaster reported.

Any preliminary work or related initial cable-laying activities thus require Turkey’s approval, Ankara said in its note, TRT added.

Turkish officials argue that with its long Mediterranean coastline, Ankara has a greater right to the waters in the region than Greece, whose claims in the area are based on a small island.

Ankara deployed a research vessel backed by navy frigates last year, despite repeated calls to stop from Athens and Brussels. They withdrew them after the EU threatened sanctions.

Hopes were raised of a resolution when Turkey and Greece in January held their first talks on maritime issues since 2016.

Although there was no breakthrough at the İstanbul talks, the NATO allies will again meet in Athens on Tuesday.

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