Turkish exploration vessel back in port ahead of possible EU sanctions

Turkey’s seismic exploration vessel Oruç Reis returned to Antalya port from disputed Mediterranean waters ahead of a summit next month where Europe’s leaders will consider imposing sanctions on the country.

The Oruç Reis has completed a mission that started on August 10, the Energy Ministry said on Twitter on Monday.

Intensifying political and military tensions between Turkey and Greece over territory and potential energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean will be a focus of the EU leaders’ summit on Dec. 11-12.

Diplomats say any measures would likely target areas of Turkey’s economy linked to hydrocarbon exploration, Reuters reported.

Tensions flared in August when Turkey sent the Oruç Reis to map out energy drilling prospects in disputed waters near Greek islands.

Ship tracking data showed that Oruç Reis was back in port in Antalya on Monday morning. The data also showed drill ship Yavuz in waters near Turkey’s southern coast, while seismic survey vessel Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa was out at sea south of Cyprus, Reuters said.

Last week, the EU parliament called for sanctions against Turkey over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Vasosha, a ghost town in Northern Cyprus left empty since a Turkish invasion in 1974.

Turkey says it has the right to explore for hydrocarbons off its coastline and near Cyprus, claiming the area is part of its continental shelf.