Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis leaves area after NATO talks

Turkish seismic research vessel Oruç Reis has returned to Turkey following technical talks at NATO to resolve tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Haberler news website reported.

Turkish and Greek officials at NATO headquarters held talks on how to avoid a military escalation in the eastern Mediterranean on Thursday.

Athens earlier refused to join in on talks unless Ankara withdraws its naval ships from the contested waters.

Oruç Reis research ship, along with a naval escort, was expected to continue surveying off the coasts of the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Rhodes until Sept. 25.

“This attitude must have continuity and consistency in the coming period,” Cyprus Mail cited Stelios Petsas, the Greek government spokesman, as saying.

Turkey disputes Greece’s claim to exclusive rights in the waters where Oruç Reis vessel was surveying for hydrocarbon resources. Greece says the vessel is over its own continental shelf, where it has exclusive rights on potential undersea gas and oil, and has deployed its own warships to shadow the Turkish vessels.