The Greek government challenged on Monday the legitimacy of Turkey's intention to extend the area in the Eastern Mediterranean where it has the authority to conduct search and rescue operations, as it covers areas within Greece's jurisdiction.

On Saturday, Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu released a new map showing that Ankara designated a massive portion of the Eastern Mediterranean stretching from Crete to Cyprus as an area in which its military can carry out search and rescue operations.

"By taking this step, which adds to the recent continuous provocations, Ankara unilaterally and arbitrarily redefined the border of a maritime zone of responsibility within its jurisdiction. This decision is clearly illegal as it covers areas that belong not only to the Greek jurisdiction but also to the Greek sovereignty," Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said at a briefing.

According to the Greek official, the reasoning behind Turkey's decision is not founded on "operational criteria" and does not pursue saving lives. By crossing into Greece's own search and rescue area, the new Turkish area also crosses into a Greek zone of flight control, the so-called Athens flight information region, Petsas explained. 

Turkey's search and rescue operations are carried out by the Natural Disasters Search and Rescue Battalion of the Turkish Armed Forces, established in 2001.

Relations between Greece and Turkey have been historically strained, but they further deteriorated earlier this year when Turkey began drilling for gas in areas of the Eastern Mediterranean that Greece and Cyprus claim as parts of their exclusive economic zones.

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The Greek government challenged on Monday the legitimacy of Turkey's intention to extend the area in the Eastern Mediterranean where it has the authority to conduct search and rescue operations, as it covers areas within Greece's jurisdiction.

On Saturday, Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu released a new map showing that Ankara designated a massive portion of the Eastern Mediterranean stretching from Crete to Cyprus as an area in which its military can carry out search and rescue operations.

​"By taking this step, which adds to the recent continuous provocations, Ankara unilaterally and arbitrarily redefined the border of a maritime zone of responsibility within its jurisdiction. This decision is clearly illegal as it covers areas that belong not only to the Greek jurisdiction but also to the Greek sovereignty," Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said at a briefing.

According to the Greek official, the reasoning behind Turkey's decision is not founded on "operational criteria" and does not pursue saving lives. By crossing into Greece's own search and rescue area, the new Turkish area also crosses into a Greek zone of flight control, the so-called Athens flight information region, Petsas explained. 

Turkey's search and rescue operations are carried out by the Natural Disasters Search and Rescue Battalion of the Turkish Armed Forces, established in 2001.

Relations between Greece and Turkey have been historically strained, but they further deteriorated earlier this year when Turkey began drilling for gas in areas of the Eastern Mediterranean that Greece and Cyprus claim as parts of their exclusive economic zones.