Turkish exploration vessel Oruç Reis to ‘return to duty after maintenance,’ says Erdoğan

Turkey withdrawing the natural gas and oil exploration vessel Oruç Reis to port was not a permanent end to seismic research, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters following Friday prayers.

“This was a meaningful approach. We wanted to give diplomacy a chance, so Greece could welcome our approach in a positive way and we move forward accordingly. This does not mean that our seismic research has stopped,” Erdoğan was cited as saying in a Presidential Communiations Directorate statement. “Oruç Reis will return to duty after its maintenance and repairs are done, and continue its job in the region as it has done.”

There have been many European leaders willing to act as intermediaries between Turkey and Greece regarding the ongoing Eastern Mediterranean dispute, Erdoğan said.

According to the president, Turkey has no qualms about meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, but “if they try to do an imposition like they did in Meis (Kastellorizo), it won’t mean anything.”

Erdoğan slammed Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou’s visit to the disputed island on Sept. 13, saying, “If (Greece) puts on this show of force, we will put on a much bigger one.”

The leader of Libya’s U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al Sarraj, announcing that he will resign has been “sad” for Turkey, Erdoğan said.

“We see that (Libyan General Khalifa Haftar) will eventually lose, but we received news from Mr Sarraj and we have sent him news of our own,” the president said. “We may have some meetings with the GNA this week, together we will meet at the direction that is necessary, Allah wiling.”

Erdoğan also spoke about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, saying Turkey will have to resort to strict measures as daily case numbers surpass 1,700 again. The president mentioned precautions on public transport and massive gatherings like weddings, but did not speak about workplaces or factories.

“We see that there will be come some positive signals after new year’s,” Erdoğan said about the trials for a Chinese vaccine that started in Turkey last week.

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