The Turkish Navy says the research vessel Oruc Reis will stay in the region until November 14, as Athens condemns the move.
Turkey has again extended a hydrocarbon exploration mission in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean, ignoring Greek warnings that such moves will undermine efforts to resolve the dispute between NATO allies.
The Turkish Navy announced on Sunday in a message via the international sea alert system NAVTEX that the ship Oruc Reis would remain in the region for seismic surveys until November 14 and that it would extend its activities from the previously announced end date on November 4.
The latest deployment comes immediately after Turkey and Greece weakened part of their bellicose rhetoric after a deadly earthquake in both countries.
However, Athens soon responded to the Turkish move, denouncing what it termed “Turkey’s illegal behavior” and calling for withdrawal from the area.
The Greek Foreign Ministry said in a tweet that Minister Nikos Dendias would update the country’s allies and partners on the latest developments.
“This (Turkish) action only increases tensions in a vulnerable region where attention is currently focused on aid and support, as well as solidarity (after the earthquake),” the Foreign Ministry said.
The dispute flared up in August
The dispute escalated in August when Turkey first sent Oruc Reis into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus.
Ankara withdrew Oruc Reis last month to allow diplomacy ahead of a European Union summit on October 2nd at which Cyprus and Greece requested sanctions against Turkey.
After the summit, the bloc said it would punish Turkey if it continued its operations in the region. A move Ankara said put a further strain on Turkey-EU relations.
Turkey sent the ship out again on October 12, sparking angry response from various members of the international organization. Turkey has since extended the ship’s exploration time several times.
The two countries have argued over the extent of their continental shelves and their claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region.
According to Athens, Ankara is violating international law by searching in Greek waters and is calling on the EU to reconsider its customs union to punish Turkey’s “imperial fantasies”.
Turkey insists that it is within its rights in the energetic Mediterranean basin, saying that not all Greek islands are large enough to delineate the extent of Greek sovereignty.
Concern about a possible military conflict between Greece and Turkey remains high. Both have carried out maneuvers with frigates and fighter jets in the region.