Turkey extends mission for Oruç Reis seismic vessel in region of Antalya Gulf
The Oruç Reis will carry out seismic studies together with two other vessels, the Ataman and Cengiz Han. The vessels will conduct various geological, geophysical, hydrographic and oceano-graphic surveys, while also searching for natural resources within the Turkish territory.
Earlier, the vessel returned to Antalya port on Nov. 29 for maintenance purposes.
Ankara has consistently opposed Greece’s efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
Turkey has also said that energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between North Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration.
NATO members Turkey and Greece have conflicting claims to continental shelves and rights to potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Tensions flared in August when Ankara sent Oruç Reis to map out energy drilling prospects in waters also claimed by Greece.
After weeks of tension, Ankara and Athens agreed to resume talks over their contested maritime claims in September, ending a four-year hiatus. But Greece has since said it would not begin talks as long as Turkish vessels were in contested waters.
The ship returned to Antalya port on Nov. 29 ahead of a meeting of the EU leaders on Dec. 11-12, where they stepped up for sanctions against Ankara.
Turkey has “engaged in unilateral actions and provocations and escalated its rhetoric against the EU,” the EU leaders said, adding that this was despite the fact that they had offered trade and other incentives to Turkey to halt its activities during their last summit in October.
The EU leaders have agreed to impose sanctions on an unspecified number of Turkish officials and entities involved in gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean. But they have postponed further decisions such as trade tariffs or an arms embargo until they have consulted with the upcoming U.S. administration.