Turkey extends drilling operations for Oruç Reis drillship in East Med
(Updated with Athens' statement on Turkey's NAVTEX)
Turkey extended on Saturday drilling operations for its Oruç Reis ship located in the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29 amid soaring tensions with neighbouring Greece and Cyprus over hydrocarbon resources.
The navigational advisory known as Navtex issued for the Oruç Reis enables the drill ship to continue its drilling activities off the west of the divided island of Cyprus, T24 news site reported.
The ship will be accompanied by the Ataman and Cengiz Han vessels.
Shortly after Turkey's announcement, Greece’s Foreign Ministry has released a statement urging Ankara to revoke an “illegal” Navtex extending the activities of its Oruç Reis research vessel through November 29.
According to the statement, Athens added that actions of this sort undermine prospects for an improvement in EU-Turkey ties at a time when Turkish officials assert that bloc membership remains Ankara’s “strategic” priority. The remark was an apparent reference to comments made by Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish president’s spokesman, during talks with EU officials in Brussels Saturday, Kathimerini said.
The extended Navtex arrives amid a dispute between Turkey on the one side, and Cyprus and Greece on the other, on overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region. Both sides hold conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend in waters.
The row began in August, when Turkey sent Oruç Reis into waters also claimed by Cyprus and Greece.