After a respite of several days, the Turkish government has raised temperatures in the eastern Mediterranean by once again sending a drill ship to explore for hydrocarbons in a disputed area.

Both Greece and Turkey are planning naval exercises off Crete in coming days, as tensions escalate. There has already been a direct collision between Greek and Turkish ships, which although it appears to have been accidental, further raised tensions between the two NATO partners.

Turkish President Erdogan has warned: “We will not leave unanswered the slightest attack.”

The Greek side say that an economic zone declared late last year between Turkey and Libya fails to take into account the fact that it includes the Greek island of Crete. Two weeks ago the French navy sent two ships for joint exercises with the Greeks.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travelled to Athens and Ankara last week to seek a defusing of tensions, but warned that “the least spark can lead to catastrophe”.

International observers will be watching closely as the latest Greek, and Turkish drama unfolds.

PHOTO: The Greek frigate Psara 5, being refuelled at sea