Turkey's Oruç Reis survey vessel returns to Antalya, easing tension in east Med
Turkey's seismic research vessel Oruç Reis returned to waters near the southern province of Antalya on Sept. 13, a move that could ease tensions between Ankara and Athens over offshore natural resources, according to Reuters.
Citing ship tracking data from Refinitiv, Reuters reported on Sept. 13 that Oruç Reis, along with two accompanying vessels, had returned to a location just off the coast of Antalya.
The ship returned to Antalya after its Navtex, or international maritime safety advisory, has expired.
Earlier, Turkey had announced that its Oruç Reis will now carry out seismic surveys in the disputed areas of the eastern Mediterranean until Sept. 12. Ankara on Aug. 31 night issued a Navtex announcing an extension of the Oruç Reis's research activities accompanied by the Cengiz Han and Ataman vessels.
Navtex is a maritime communications system that allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in an area, as well as other information.
Greece has disputed Turkey's energy exploration in the region, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast. French President Emmanuel Macron has interceded in support of Athens, despite lacking any Eastern Mediterranean coastline.
Turkey - the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean - has sent out drillships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.
Turkey has repeatedly said it is open to solving issues with Greece through dialogue but had publicly rejected any pre-conditions, including Oruç Reis halting operations, ahead of negotiations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said the ship would continue exploratory operations for longer but no extension to the advisory was issued as of noon Sept. 13.
"If there are those who set pre-conditions for Turkey, we have pre-conditions too and these pre-conditions need to be met," Çavuşoğlu said during a news conference on Sept. 12.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who was visiting Antalya's Kaş district said on Sept. 13 that Turkey was on the side of dialogue and a political solution "if our wishes and demands are fulfilled.''
"We have always done what is required by good neighborly relations and we expect the same from the other side," he told reporters.
Akar on Sept. 12 also said that there are those "who try to guide [Turkey] by going beyond their limits and heights."
"We cannot accept them," he said.