The Turkish navy said Sunday it would continue working in the eastern Mediterranean beginning on Monday. Its activities are expected to last until October 22, according to a message sent to maritime alert system NAVTEX.
The Oruc Reis research ship will travel near the Greek island of Kastellorizo as a part of its operation. It will be joined by two other vessels, the Ataman and Cengiz Han.
Tensions between Turkey and Greece heightened in August after the gas exploration ship entered disputed waters in the east Mediterranean, flanked by warships. Turkey claimed the ship was on a mission to research “seismic activity” even though Greece laid claim to the waters, which could hold natural gas. The move was harshly criticized by the European Union and Greece.
The Oruc Reis came back to Turkish shores last month in what was seen as a potential end to the political crisis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time it was to give diplomacy a chance, but Turkish officials said it was done to undergo planned maintenance and that the ship would return to the water.
Hope for easing tensions was again renewed when both countries agreed to a NATO-brokered deal.
Last week, Turkish and Greek foreign ministers met on the side of a security forum in the Slovakian capital Bratislava. Those were the highest-level talks since the tensions began.
At a summit earlier in October, the EU threatened to place sanctions on Turkey if it failed to stop what the bloc considered illegal drilling and energy exploration in waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece. Turkey called the threat “unconstructive.”
German foreign minister Heiko Maas is scheduled to visit Turkey on Wednesday, according to Turkish state broadcaster TRT. The eastern Mediterranean will likely be high on the agenda.
kbd/shs (AFP, Reuters)
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