Turkey extends seismic survey in eastern Mediterranean

The Turkish Navy’s Office of Navigation, Hydrography and Oceanography issued a new navigational warning (NAVTEX) on Tuesday, extending duties for seismic research vessel Oruç Reis until June 2021.

Oruç Reis will be accompanied by Ataman and Cengizhan, two civilian research vessels, in its hydrocarbon exploration efforts off the coast of Turkey’s southern Antalya province.

The designated area is within Turkey’s internationally-recognised territorial waters, avoiding disputed areas in the Mediterranean that have been the focus of tensions between Turkey and Greece, Cyprus and the European Union.

The area and duration of the survey has been received as a gesture of good will from Turkey for a possible resumption of exploratory talks with Greece, according to Greek daily Kathimerini.

EU leaders agreed to impose sanctions on Turkey over the dispute in a summit on Dec. 11, although sanctions have not targeted the country’s economy directly.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the Turkish navy conducted live-fire naval exercises in the region, the Defence Ministry announced.

Turkey maintains that it is entitled to wider territorial waters off its southern and western shores, leading to conflict with EU member states Cyprus and Greece. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told European Council chief Charles Michel in a phone call that Turkey was ready for exploratory talks with Greece, including a five-way international conference on Cyprus.