Turkey’s Oruc Reis ship returned to the contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean on Monday, in a sign of new tensions with Greece.
The Oruc Reis will carry out seismic studies in an area between the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Rhodes through Oct. 22, according to a Turkish navy website. Ankara had recalled the ship last month to allow a chance for dialog with Greece over territorial disputes, warning it would restart its search for energy if Athens didn’t seize the opportunity.
The two countries agreed to resume exploratory talks after the Oruc Reis was removed, but no date has yet been set for the negotiations — and frictions over the recent declaration of naval drills by each side in the Aegean Sea show growing animosity between them.
Turkey’s resumption of seismic surveys in an area of the Mediterranean that both Turkey and Greece say is within their own exclusive economic zones could fuel those tensions.
Strains between Turkey and Greece over contested territorial waters worsened over the summer, following similar tensions between Ankara and Cyprus. The Turkish-Greek dispute has sparked concerns about a military confrontation between two North Atlantic Treaty Organization members and prompted a German-led diplomatic push for a resolution.
Greece last week criticized an Ankara-backed decision for the Turkish Cypriot government to reopen the beach of a ghost town in Cyprus’s Turkish-controlled north ahead of the first round of Sunday’s presidential elections in the breakaway state. A run-off vote will be held Oct. 18.
Another Turkish survey ship, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, is also conducting seismic work off Cyprus through Nov. 9 as Turkey pushes for a regional conference to discuss a fair share of hydrocarbon resources discovered in the Mediterranean.
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