Turkey has resumed survey activities for oil and gas in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean in a move reigniting the tension with its neighbors and EU members Greece and Cyprus.
The Oruc Reis seismic survey vessel has returned to location in the Mediterranean and started taking data on Wednesday, Reuters quoted Turkey’s Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez as saying at a virtual conference today.
Tensions between European Union (EU) members Greece and Cyprus on the one hand, and Turkey on the other, flared up again in recent months after Turkey resumed drilling and exploration for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean in waters that Greece and Cyprus consider part of their territorial waters.
The heightened tension in the eastern Mediterranean and the growing rift between Greece and Turkey, who are also both part of the NATO alliance, has had the EU consider possible sanctions on Turkey over the drilling in the eastern Mediterranean.
The EU has been recently trying to de-escalate the tension in the eastern Mediterranean. Early last week, a Turkish exploration vessel left the area in which it was operating off Cyprus and returned to Turkey’s coast—a move that the EU welcomed and said would ease the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
However, Turkey announced on Sunday that it would resume its survey in the area, drawing criticism from Greece, the EU, and the United States.
The move “constitutes a major escalation and direct threat to peace and security in the region,” the Greek foreign ministry said on Monday, while the U.S. Department of State said on Tuesday that “The United States deplores Turkey’s October 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece. Unilateral actions cannot build trust and will not produce enduring solutions,” the State Department said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.