Turkish research vessel leaves disputed Mediterranean waters

The research vessel “OruçReis”, deployed by Ankara in a disputed area in the Mediterranean rich in natural gas, has returned to a Turkish port, the Turkish press reported on Sunday. “A first positive step”, greeted the Greek Prime Minister.

A sign of calming of Greek-Turkish tensions? The research vessel that Ankara launched in a disputed area in the eastern Mediterranean that is rich in natural gas, which led to tensions with Greece and the European Union, returned to a Turkish port, a professional reported daily on Sunday (September 13). Turkish Government.

“This is a positive first step […]I hope there will be more, says Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a press conference in Thessaloniki.

Turkey launched the seismic research vessel “OruçReis” on August 10 in waters near a Greek island. It has extended its mission three times despite repeated calls from the EU and Greece to end it. The discovery of large gas fields in recent years in the eastern Mediterranean has revived old disputes between Greece and Greece. Turkey on their maritime borders.

The ship’s mission, which ended on Saturday, was not extended by the Turkish authorities, according to the government newspaper Yeni Safak, which specifies that “OruçReis” returned to the port of Antalya, in the southern part of the country. .

The decision not to extend his mandate is seen as “a step towards giving diplomacy a chance”, writes the newspaper, which links to attempts to start talks between Greece and Turkey.

“Technical conversations”

NATO announced that the two countries had agreed to launch “technical talks” in order to prevent incidents between their fleets in the eastern Mediterranean. Athens denied the information, but Turkey’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that talks had begun between military delegations from the two countries at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Turkey has repeatedly stated that it is ready for an unconditional dialogue, but Greece says talks can only take place when Ankara ceases its “threats”. “The fact that there is no new maritime announcement about Navtex is positive. We note this and follow the situation,” the Greek government spokesman responded on Sunday to the TV channel Skai TV.

The mission of the seismic research vessels is to locate any submarine deposits. A sign of escalating tensions, rival military maneuvers, including Turkish and American warships on the one hand, and Greek, Cypriot, French and Italian ships on the other, have recently taken place in the eastern Mediterranean.

>> Also read on France24.com: Greece-Turkey: what to know about the escalation of tensions in the Mediterranean

On Thursday, seven leaders in southern EU countries raised the threat of European sanctions against Turkey if it did not end its “unilateral operation” in the eastern Mediterranean.

With AFP