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Turkey Extends Exploration in Disputed Mediterranean Waters

Turkey Extends Exploration in Disputed Mediterranean Waters

Thursday, 22 October, 2020 - 04:45
FILE PHOTO: Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, August 22, 2019. Picture taken August 22, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkey said Wednesday it would extend a gas exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean that has raised hackles in neighboring Greece, defying warnings from Western countries.

The Oruc Reis research vessel had been scheduled to end its work Thursday, but will now remain at sea until October 27, the Turkish navy said in a maritime announcement, AFP reported.

Two other vessels, the Ataman and Cengiz Han along with Oruc Reis will continue work in an area southeast of the Greek island of Rhodes until Oct. 27.

The vessels had previously been scheduled to work until Oct. 22.

NATO members Turkey and Greece are at odds over conflicting claims to hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean and overlapping views on the extent of their continental shelves.

Tensions flared in August when Ankara sent Oruc Reis to waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

According to Reuters, Ankara had withdrawn Oruc Reis from last month to “allow for diplomacy” before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.

After the summit the bloc said it would punish Turkey if it continued its operations in the region, in a move Ankara said further strained Turkey-EU ties. Turkey said its operations are within its continental shelf.

Earlier on Wednesday, Greece urged the EU to reconsider its customs union with Turkey in response to Ankara’s exploration in the Mediterranean, deploring what it termed Turkey’s “imperial fantasies.”

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