Ignoring the opposition of Greece and the European Union, Turkey will send energy exploration vessels into the Mediterranean.
On October 11, local time, the Turkish Navy announced that the energy exploration and research ship Oruc Reis will return to the Mediterranean for geological surveys in the next 10 days. This move may restore tensions with NATO ally Greece.
Reuters reported that the Turkish Navy issued a notice later that day that in addition to the “Oruc Reis”, the other two offshore supply ships “Cengiz Han” and “Ataman”, will also jointly carry out the investigation of the originally planned area. Coverage includes Kastellorizo, Greece, until October 22.
Kastelorizo Island is located south of Turkey, very close to the Turkish mainland, only two kilometers away.
The oil and natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean have recently become major friction points between Greece and Turkey.
In August, Turkey dispatched the “Oruchires” to a sea area believed to be rich in natural gas resources and was sent to each other by warships. The Greek side immediately dispatched a navy to respond and held joint military exercises with the allies.
A few weeks later, Turkey recalled the “Oruc Reis” before the EU leaders summit. The Prime Minister of Greece affirmed this, calling this a “positive step.” But the Turkish side said that retreat does not mean giving up, they will come back.
Since Turkey and Greece are both NATO members, NATO came forward to negotiate and urge the two member states to avoid military conflicts.
On September 3, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg said on Twitter that after consulting with the leaders of Turkey and Greece, Turkey and Greece have agreed to start “technical negotiations” in order to avoid the Unexpected military conflict broke out in the region.
Later that day, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in response, saying that Turkey supports the NATO Secretary-General’s initiative to start technical negotiations between Turkey and Greece, and hopes that Greece can also support this initiative. However, the Greek side denied that there are plans to negotiate. A Greek official said, “Only when all Turkish ships immediately withdraw from the Greek Continental Shelf’ can the situation ease.”
Before the summit of the Group of Seven in Southern Europe on September 10, French President Emmanuel Macron fully fired and denounced Turkey’s Erdogan government’s actions to exacerbate tensions in the Mediterranean.
After the summit, the leaders of the seven nations issued a joint statement stating that if Turkey fails to end the “confrontational action”, corresponding sanctions will be put on the agenda.