Turkey extends East Med gas exploration mission to Nov 29

Turkey has said that its Oruç Reis exploration vessel will now carry out seismic surveys in a disputed part of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29. The ship had been expected to finish its work by Nov. 23. 

Duvar English - Reuters

Turkey said it was extending the seismic survey work of its Oruç Reis ship in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29, in a move that could add to tensions in the region.

NATO members Turkey and Greece are locked in a dispute over the extent of their continental shelves and conflicting claims to hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

The row erupted in August when Turkey sent Oruç Reis into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

Along with two other ships, the Ataman and Cengiz Han, Oruç Reis will continue work in an area west of Cyprus, a Turkish naval maritime notice said on Nov. 21. 

Ankara pulled the vessel out in September to allow for diplomacy with Greece, but then sent it back to the area, prompting an angry reaction from Greece, France and Germany.

The ship had been expected to finish its work by Nov. 23. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Nov. 19 said that the EU could consider imposing sanctions against Turkey over its actions in the eastern Mediterranean in December. 

"It is up to Turkey what decision will be taken at the EU summit in December," Maas said ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also warned Turkey on Nov. 19 saying Ankara must understand that its behaviour is “widening its separation” from the 27-nation bloc.

“Time is running, and we are approaching a watershed moment in our relationship with Turkey,” Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers.