Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month,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.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
France and Germany accused Turkey on Oct. 15 of continuing to provoke the European Union with its actions in the eastern Mediterranean, and gave it a week to clarify its positions. "It's clear to us that Turkey is permanently carrying out provocative acts which are unacceptable," France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a news conference alongside his German and Polish counterparts.
Tensions rose between Ankara and Athens once again after Turkey's decision send Oruç Reis for seismic surveys in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greek Foreign Ministry has said that Ankara's move is a major escalation of tensions. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara's operations were within its continental shelf and it expected Greece to refrain from steps escalating tensions.
Greece on Sept. 27 called on Turkey to condemn and investigate what it said was an "insult" to its national flag on the Greek island of Kastellorizo. "We expect Turkish authorities to immediately condemn and investigate the incident, so that the culprits are brought before justice," it said. "Such unacceptable actions only seek to torpedo prospects for easing tensions between the two countries."
When you look at the history of Greece and Turkey in the 20th century, what you find is this shared history of war, dictatorship, and repression. While politicians and civil society leaders focus on friendship or diplomacy, it is the artists who have most successfully given us a vision of what something more like solidarity would look like.
Turkey and Greece have agreed to resume talks over their contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean after a four year hiatus. Ömer Çelik, spokesman for Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said preparations for the resumption of talks were under way and that the two sides were working on the parameters.
The summer of 2020 may have passed with no war and Turkey-Greece relations may at least be “warless,” with “exploratory talks“ on the way, but they are now in a “cold war” period. Greece and Turkey have lost the peace between them somewhere deep in the Aegean — for the time being.
Turkey's seismic research vessel Oruç Reis left the port of Antalya early on Sept. 22, a week after it returned to shore for what Ankara called “routine maintenance,” according to Turkish media outlets.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey recalled Oruç Reis from disputed waters to allow for diplomacy with Greece. "Let's give diplomacy a chance, let's put forth a positive approach for diplomacy. Greece should also positively meet this approach of ours, and let's take a step accordingly," Erdoğan said in Istanbul after Friday prayers. "This is why we did it," he added.
Management of Turkey's seismic search vessel Oruç Reis was signed to a close friend of former PM Binali Yıldırım, daily BirGün reported. While the tender was worth nearly $5 million, the private company will operate the vessel for the next two years.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that Turkey does not expect to face European Union sanctions over a dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean. Çavuşoğlu repeated Turkey was open to talks without pre-conditions, but added that the seismic research vessel Oruç Reis will soon resume operations after it anchored off Turkey's southern coast on Sept. 13.
Turkey's main opposition CHP has deemed the return of seismic research vessel Oruç Reis to its base in Antalya "a compromise," while also calling on the government to "not make compromises in our rightful cause" following an extraordinary meeting on the escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Macron says “the EU is me” and Erdoğan says “Turkey is me”. Both are not totally false and yet neither is fully correct. At the same time, as Erdoğan dropped the full EU membership target a long time ago, he prefers something in between the Russian and the new British relationships with the EU.
Turkey has again extended its energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean through its ship the Oruç Reis, this time by 11 days, until Sept. 12. Earlier, Turkey had announced the ship's mission would continue through Sept. 1.