A Turkish seismic survey vessel, whose research in the disputed region of the eastern Mediterranean has occurred amid a week of deadlock between Ankara and Athens, has returned to waters near southern Turkey – a move Greece said was a positive first step Reducing stress on offshore natural resources.
But Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulsi Akar played down the significance of the move, stating that the ship had returned as part of the planned plans and insisted that it did not mean Ankara was “giving up our rights”.
On Sunday, state news agency Anadolu in Antalya, southern Turkey, reported, “Forward and backward movements will be planned.”
Neighboring and NATO allies Turkey and Greece have acknowledged overlapping claims of rights to potential energy resources in continental shelves and in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions rose last month after Ankara Rees was dispatched to exclude possible oil and gas drilling possibilities in waters claimed by Ankara, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
The Turkish Navy issued an advisory earlier this month stating that the vessel would continue operating in the area until 12 September. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had said that it would continue exploratory operations for longer but no extension of advisory was issued until noon.
Refinitive ship tracking data showed Oruck Rees, with two naval ships, returning to a location just off the coast of Antalya.
The move was welcomed by Greek Prime Minister Kiriakos Mitsotakis on Sunday.
“The return of Oruk Rees is a positive first step, I expect continuity to remain,” he told reporters at Thessaloniki. We want to talk with Turkey but in a climate without provocation.
Ankara is facing possible sanctions from the European Union over the dispute, which fully supports member countries Greece and Cyprus. But many states, including Germany, want to resolve the deadlock through negotiations.
“A ban list exists as an option [against Turkey]. We do not want to see it implemented, but it will be done when we see that the other side is not returning to the path of argument, ”said Mitsotakis.
The dispute over potential oil and gas reserves triggered a military buildup in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, with both Turkey and Greece sending warships to the region and conducting military exercises to stake their claims.
Turkey has reiterated that it is open to resolving issues with Greece through negotiations, but publicly declined any positions, including Ork Rees operations prior to negotiations.
“If there are people setting the prerequisites for Turkey, then we also have the prerequisites and these prerequisites need to be met,” Cavusoglu said during a news conference on Saturday.
Earlier in September, Mitsutakis said his country would once again begin talks with Turkey to resolve conflicting claims.
Aker said that Turkey supports peace and negotiation “if our wishes and demands are met”.
Turkey rejects criticism of the European Union, saying that the dispute should be fair in the dispute, arguing that the discovery of water where natural gas drilling was being carried out was part of its Turkish continental shelf.
Turkey says it has a legitimate claim in the eastern Mediterranean. There is no agreement between Greece and Turkey destroying their continental shelves, while Turkey disputes any claim by Cyprus with which it has no diplomatic ties.
Cyprus split in the Turkish invasion in 1974, beginning with a brief Greek-inspired coup. Its internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government represents the entire island in the European Union, although its authority is effectively vested in the southern part. Northern Cyprus is an unrecognized Turkish Cypriot state recognized only by Ankara.
Professor James Kerr-Lindsay of the London School of Economics said that the dispute is a 1924 maritime settlement between Turkey and Greece that is now outdated. He said that Turkey is claiming that a small Greek island is being diverted away from its access to vast gas resources.
“It’s an incredibly complex problem. A hundred years ago the two sorted their boundaries but times have changed. International law was in a very different place, you couldn’t detect deep water. But with technology we can now Have become competent. ”He told Al Jazeera.
Pompeo in Cyprus
Amid tensions, Mitsutakis announced a “strong” weapons procurement program and an overhaul of the country’s military on Saturday.
In a keynote address in Thessaloniki, he said that Greece would acquire 18 French-built Rafale war planes, four multipurpose frigates and four naval helicopters, while also recruiting 15,000 new troops and putting resources into the national arms industry and cyberbet defense. He said that new anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes and air force missiles would also be safe.
Mitsotakis is believed to have accelerated the program after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron during a Southern European leaders’ conference in Corsica this week. France has strongly supported Greece in its growing performances with Turkey as well as Cyprus.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday targeted Macron following French criticism of Turkish maritime activities in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, as tensions between NATO allies continue.
“You’ll have more problems with me,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul. “Don’t mess with Turkish people. Don’t mess with Turkey.”
Separately on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for a diplomatic solution to the dispute between Greece and Turkey, saying military tensions between NATO allies serve only the enemies of the coalition.
“Increased military tension does not help anyone else, but would like to see a split in translatistic unity,” Pompeo said after a conversation in Nicosia with Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus.