Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey’s Oruç Reis pauses East Med mission as tension’s focal point moves to France

Daily Sabah – Turkey’s Oruç Reis seismic vessel’s natural gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, which is at the center of a row between Ankara and Athens, returned home over the weekend, as the dispute’s focal point shifted toward France with French President Emmanuel Macron blatantly targeting Ankara.

The Oruç Reis returned to the Turkish port of Antalya Saturday night, its time at sea – as determined in its latest Navtex declaration – having come to an end. Navtex is a maritime communications system that allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in an area.

The vessel’s exploration work in the area initially started on Aug.10 and was scheduled to last until Sept.1. However, last week, the period was extended until Sept.12, with the expectation of another extension later, continuing until Sept.25. However, many argue that talks between Turkey and Greece initiated by NATO last week are the main reasons behind the vessel’s break from work in order to enhance dialogue and ease tension.

Explaining Turkey’s position on the issue Sunday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reiterated that Ankara was ready to do whatever it takes to have a political solution and dialogue over the crisis.

“We expect the same from (Greece) as well,” he said, adding that provocations are not helpful for anyone, including Greece.

He underlined that Turkey doesn’t hesitate to have diplomatic talks to ease tensions since it is in the right.

As far as the Oruç Reis’ activities in the region are concerned, the minister stated that the exploration activities will continue in line with Turkey’s plan.

“There is no giving up our rights in East Med,” he indicated.

In Akar’s opinion, Greek people should not follow Macron-led initiatives, forming part of the French president’s schemes to save himself from the consequences of his failed policies in the region.

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