Germany warns Turkey against ‘provocation' in East Med

Turkey should refrain from “provocation” in a territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday.

"Ankara must end the interplay between detente and provocation if the government is interested in talks – as it has repeatedly affirmed," Reuters cited Maas as saying in Berlin before his visit to Cyprus and Greece. He said Germany stood in solidarity with Cyprus and Greece as European Union partners.

Political and military tensions between Turkey and Greece are intensifying again despite both sides agreeing to exploratory talks in late September. No date has been set for the negotiations aimed at de-escalating a month-long standoff over Turkey’s offshore hydrocarbon exploration within internationally recognised Greek and Cypriot maritime boundaries.

Turkey withdrew its navy-escorted Oruç Reis research vessel from the disputed waters last month to fulfil Greece’s pre-condition for the talks, which Germany helped broker. But the ship set sail towards Greek territory again on Monday to carry out seismic surveys.

The Oruç Reis was located around 80 kilometres south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo at 8:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, according to global shipping tracker

A naval NAVTEX issued by Turkey on Sunday foresaw the ship conducting seismic surveys adjacent to Kastellorizo. Turkey’s attempts to explore for hydrocarbons off the island had been a main catalyst for the previous tensions.

Maas cancelled a scheduled visit to Ankara this week and will travel only to Athens and Nicosia, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper reported on Monday. The report came a few hours after Turkey announced the Oruç Reis’ return to the eastern Mediterranean.