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Tuesday, September 01, 2020, 11:08
Turkey extends exploration work in disputed east Mediterranean area
By Reuters
Tuesday, September 01, 2020, 11:08 By Reuters

In this photo provided on Aug 31, 2020, by the Greek Defense Ministry, worships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France, participate in a joint military exercise which was held from 26-28 of August, south of Turkey in eastern Mediterranean sea. Turkey on Aug 31, accused Greece of "piracy" and warned it will stand up to Athens' alleged efforts to militarize islands near its coast. (GREEK DEFENSE MINISTRY VIA AP)

ISTANBUL/ATHENS - Turkey said on Monday that its Oruc Reis exploration vessel will carry out seismic surveys in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Sept 12, provoking an angry response from neighbouring Greece.

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area based on conflicting views on the extent of their continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.

Greece’s foreign ministry called the advisory illegal and urged Turkey to ease tensions and work for stability in the region

Both sides have held military exercises in the east Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the dispute over the extent of their continental shelves to escalate.

The Turkish navy issued an advisory saying the Oruc Reis would continue working until Sept 12. It had previously been scheduled to work until Sept 1.

The advisory came after the European Union’s executive earlier on Monday called for dialogue with Turkey and demanded that Ankara refrain from unilateral steps that stoke tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

ALSO READ: Turkey to hold military exercise amid Mediterranean tensions

Greece’s foreign ministry called the advisory illegal and urged Turkey to ease tensions and work for stability in the region.

“Turkey continues to ignore calls for dialogue and to escalate its provocations,” the ministry said in a statement. “Greece won’t be blackmailed.”

Greece will keep seeking maritime deals with its neighbours in the region, based on international law and the law of the Sea, the ministry added. Last week, Greece ratified an accord on maritime boundaries with Egypt.

Turkey’s latest advisory referred to a specific exploration area. On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the Oruc Reis would continue working for the next 90 days as it moved gradually closer to the Turkish province of Antalya.

Seismic surveys are part of preparatory work for potential hydrocarbon exploration. Turkey has also been exploring for hydrocarbon resources in the Black Sea and discovered a 320 billion cubic metre (11.3 trillion cubic feet) gas field.

READ MORE: Erdogan says Turkey won't compromise over rights at sea

Separately, Turkey also said it will hold a military exercise off northwest Cyprus until Sept 11.


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