The Turkish navy said on Sunday that an agreement was reached for talks after the Oruch Rees exploration vessel was heading back towards the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean waters between the Greek islands Crete and Cyprus.
In a tightly worded statement, the State Department said that the US has quashed Turkey’s decision, saying that Greece claims “jurisdiction” over areas where the ship is planned to operate from 22 October.
“We urge Turkey to end this provocative provocation and immediately begin exploratory negotiations with Greece,” State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
“Turkey’s declaration unilaterally increases tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of important exploratory negotiations between our NATO ally Greece and Turkey,” she said.
“Force, intimidation, intimidation and military activity will not resolve tensions in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.”
Turkey had last sent ships supported by warships, dangerous to both Greece and Cyprus, which have partially occupied Ankara.
Greece responded to military exercises but tensions subsided when both Ankara and Athens agreed to speak through the crisis.
Greece said there could be no diplomatic solution until Tuesday when the ship was withdrawn.
“Greece will not sit at the table for exploratory talks while Oruk Rees and the escorting warships are out,” Greece’s Minister of State George Gerapatitis told Parapolitica Radio.
He said that Athens would “vigorously” raise the dispute at a European Council meeting starting on Thursday.
– Germany took steps –
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month that the return of the ship was to give diplomacy a chance.
But Turkish officials also insisted that the ship was only undergoing planned maintenance and would return to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to continue its work.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking ahead of a visit to Cyprus and Greece, said that Turkey “must end the cycle of detention and provocation if the government is interested in negotiations”.
“If Turkish gas were to be discovered anew in the more contentious sea areas in the eastern Mediterranean, it would be a serious blow to efforts to de-escalate,” Maas said.
While France has supported Greece in a deadlock with Turkey, Germany had in August upset many Greeks as a less significant response by Europe’s largest economic power.
Erdogan has cordial relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has worked with Turkey both on the flow of Syrian and other refugees to Europe and on the crisis in Libya.
Erdogan has also cultivated a close relationship with US President Donald Trump, who said of the Turkish leader in an interview for investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book: “The harder and meaner they are, the more I am with them. Will only get better. ”
The US relationship with Athens is still growing rapidly due to the growing embrace of US ally Israel.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Greece last month in a show of support in which he hoped to ease tensions with Turkey.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has been newly vocal on many fronts, not just against historical rival Greece.
Erdogan has encouraged Azerbaijan in recent weeks in his campaign to end the “occupation” of the Nagorno-Karabakh region by Argania as neighbors engage in their most serious fighting since 1994.
burs-SCT / bgs