Turkey resuming drilling in East Med, Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday announced that Turkey has restarted a search for energy in the eastern Mediterranean as he accused neighbouring Greece of failing to keep its promises regarding energy exploration in the region, Agence France Presse reported.

"We have resumed the drilling activity. We have sent (exploration vessel) Barbaros Hayrettin to the area," AFP said, citing Erdoğan who spoke after Friday prayers at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia mosque, another source of tension between the two countries.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads over overlapping claims to offshore gas and oil reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Cyprus say that islands have their own continental shelves granting them extensive exploration rights, a claim Turkey contests.

Ankara, which does not recognise Cyprus as a state, claims half of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on behalf of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has repeatedly carried out warship-escorted offshore drilling in the territory.

Last month, Turkey said it had agreed to temporarily suspend gas and oil exploration off the Greek island of Kastellorizo depending on the outcome of negotiations with Greece and Germany, which has taken a mediating role in the spat. 

Erdoğan’s comments come a day after Turkey announced it would conduct military exercises in an area between Greece’s Kastellorizo and Rhodes islands, where Ankara wants to explore for energy resources.

Also on Thursday, Greece and Egypt signed a maritime borders agreement delimiting an EEZ between the two countries, which contains further offshore reserves.