The Turkish research vessel “Oruc Reis” would continue to search for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean until next week. The relationship with Greece is therefore still under tension.
Turkey has extended the mission of a research vessel at the center of its dispute with Greece over gas in the Eastern Mediterranean. The operation of the “Oruc Reis”, which should have ended Thursday, will be extended until next Tuesday, the Turkish navy announced on Thursday. Ankara dismissed the European allegations of “one-sided provocations” as “baseless”.
Turkey sends ships despite international pressure
The mission was extended despite recent mounting international pressure on Ankara to give in to the gas dispute. At a summit between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also accused Turkey of “imperialist fantasies”. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that there would be no solution to the region’s problems if the countries involved did not change their “maximalist and hostile policies”. “We reject the statement containing unsubstantiated allegations and allegations against our country as a whole.”
The “Oruc Reis” has been on the road again since the beginning of last week in the disputed area south of the Greek island of Kastelorizo. The reconnaissance ship was first sent into these waters in August, where it stayed for several weeks.
Gas dispute: Turkey and Greece send warships
The temporary setback of the “Oruc Reis” had raised hopes that the crisis would be averted, which was then interrupted by the ship’s new mission. Read more about it here. Athens claims that the “Oruc Reis” crosses Greek territory, and therefore Ankara violates international law with these missions.
At their summit in Brussels last Friday, EU heads of state or government called on Turkey to refrain from “renewed unilateral and provocative actions” and to show a willingness to talk. Summit participants reiterated their “full solidarity” with Greece and Cyprus in the gas dispute.
Since the discovery of rich gas reserves in the region, there has been heated debate about its exploitation. EU members Greece and Cyprus as well as Turkey lay claim to the affected sea areas. Ankara and Athens have also made their position clear by sending warships. This has heightened concern in the EU that the dispute could lead to a military conflict between NATO partners.