Turkish Research Ship in Port After Mediterranean Survey

Turkey’s research vessel Oruc Reis is anchored off the coast of Antalya on the Mediterranean, Turkey, on July 27. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ISTANBUL (AP) — The Turkish research vessel at the heart of a Mediterranean Sea energy dispute between Turkey and Greece is back in port.

In a tweet Monday, Turkey’s energy ministry said the Oruc Reis had returned to port in Antalya after completing two-dimensional seismic research in the Demre field. Ship tracker MarineTraffic showed the survey ship had docked.

Tensions between the two neighbors and nominal NATO allies escalated over the summer with a military build-up after Turkey sent the survey ship, escorted by navy frigates, into disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean.

The move prompted Greece to also send its warships, and both countries conducted military exercises to assert their claims. NATO intervened, organizing technical talks between the two countries’ militaries to prevent a potential armed conflict.

Ankara says the Greek and Greek Cypriot governments are impinging on the energy rights of Turkey and breakaway northern Cyprus by setting maritime boundaries according to their own interests and attempting to exclude Turkey from potential oil and gas reserves.

Turkey says maritime boundaries for hydrocarbon resources should be calculated from the mainland but Greece says the continental shelves of its islands dotting the Mediterranean should be included within its energy zone.

Cyprus accuses Turkey of unlawfully carrying out drilling and exploratory work in waters where it claims exclusive economic rights.

The competing claims have led to a diplomatic crisis and aggressive rhetoric. European Union members Greece and Cyprus, along with France, have called for sanctions on Turkey.

The Oruc Reis was pulled back to port in September for maintenance and resupply. Turkish officials said it was withdrawn from Greek-claimed waters to give diplomacy a chance. It was redeployed in October after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Athens of failing to fulfill promises.

EU leaders are meeting for a summit on Dec. 10-11 and are expected to discuss the dispute and possible sanctions.

Separately, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus are conducting sea and air military drills in waters off Alexandria, Egypt, through Sunday. The Medusa exercise, which includes search and rescues, electronic warfare and naval drills, has been a component of the three countries’ cooperation pact since 2017, and is joined this year by France and the United Arab Emirates.


By ZEYNEP BILGINSOY
Menelaos Hadjicostis contributed from Nicosia, Cyprus.

%d bloggers like this: