Duvar English – Reuters
The United States on Oct. 13 slammed Turkey’s renewed push to send a vessel to carry out seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean, accusing Ankara of stoking tensions and deliberately complicating the resumption of any talks with Greece.
“The United States deplores Turkey’s Oct. 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
“Coercion, threats, intimidation, and military activity will not resolve tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece,” she said.
On Oct. 12, Turkish ship Oruç Reis set sail to carry out seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean, prompting Greece to issue a furious new demand for European Union sanctions on Ankara in a row over offshore exploration rights.
France also expressed its concern after Oruç Reis began its voyage. Greece’s foreign ministry described the move as a “major escalation” and a “direct threat to peace in the region.” Turkey, meanwhile, accused Athens of fuelling tensions.
The Oruç Reis intends to carry out work south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, which is close to Turkey’s coast.
Turkey had withdrawn the vessel from contested waters in the eastern Mediterranean last month to “allow diplomacy” before an EU summit at which sanctions against Turkey were discussed.
At the summit, the EU said that if Turkey continued operations in the region, sanctions could be imposed as soon as December.
Germany slams Turkey for sending survey ship to eastern Mediterranean
Earlier on Oct. 13, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Turkey should refrain from provocation, adding Germany stood in solidarity with Cyprus and Greece as EU partners.
“Ankara must end the interplay between detente and provocation if the government is interested in talks – as it has repeatedly affirmed,” Maas said in Berlin before his flight to Cyprus and Greece.
He appealed to Turkey to remain open for talks and called on Ankara not to resume gas exploration in the more controversial sea areas.
Greece, meanwhile, said that it will not engage in exploratory talks with Turkey as long as Turkish survey vessel Oruç Reis remains in its continental shelf waters.
“As long as the Oruç Reis is in the area we will not hold exploratory contacts with Turkey,” government spokesperson Stelios Petsas told Skai Radio.