Turkey extends Oruç Reis’ mandate for 5 days in east Med
Turkey has extended the Oruç Reis exploration vessel’s seismic studies for another five days in the eastern Mediterranean, vowing that it will continue to search hydrocarbon reserves in its continental shelf despite warnings from the European Union.
The Oruç Reis research vessel is scheduled to end its work on Oct. 22 but will remain at sea until Oct. 27, the Turkish navy said in a NAVTEX maritime announcement.
The ship will conduct its works in an area between Rhodes and Meis islands in the eastern Mediterranean, according to the NAVTEX.
Greece has issued a counter NAVTEX on early Thursday, claiming that the Turkish announcement is not legal as the area is part of the Greek continental shelf. Turkey and Greece are in a long-standing conflict over the maritime delimitation problem in the Aegean and Mediterranean.
Greece is seeking support from the EU who has threatened Turkey to impose sanctions at the bloc’s December summit should Turkey endure its unilateral drilling activities in the region.
Turkey recalls that the EU has no jurisdiction to determine which maritime areas belong to who and is ready to negotiate all these problems with Greece bilaterally. The two neighboring countries had earlier agreed to resume the exploratory talks, but Greece says that it won’t come to the table while the Oruç Reis continues its work.
“We have a continental shelf, and we will conduct our works in this area, just like we are doing in the Black Sea,” Vice President Fuat Oktay told private broadcaster CNN Türk late Oct. 22. The seismic works and drilling activities off Cyprus are held upon the licenses issued by Turkish Cyprus, Oktay informed, criticizing Greece and Greek Cyprus for trying to confine Turkey to the Gulf of Antalya in violation of the international law.
If the Greek thesis concerning the Aegean and Mediterranean would be implemented, Turkey will hardly have a passage to the international waters, the vice president stated, underlining that tiny Greek islands like Meis cannot generate continental shelves to the disadvantage of the Turkish mainland.
He also reiterated Ankara’s determination in continuing to act in line with its rights and interests in the region at any cost.