Greece: Turkish Vessel’s Departure ‘Positive’ Step
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has welcomed news that the Turkish seismic research ship Oruc Reis is now off Turkey’s southern coast and no longer in contested waters. Last month, the vessel began what appeared to be a search for undersea deposits of natural gas in an area claimed by Greece, the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, setting off alarm bells in Brussels, where both Athens and Nicosia are members of the European Union. “The return of Oruc Reis is a positive first step,” Mitsotakis told media representatives Sunday in the coastal city of Thessaloniki. “I hope there will be continuity. We want to talk with Turkey, but in a climate without provocations.” In the past year, Ankara has sent several vessels to search for gas deposits in contested maritime zones, most notably around the divided island of Cyprus, whose northern half has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. It signed a maritime agreement with Libya last year in an effort to assert its rights between the northern and southern shores of the Eastern Mediterranean. Seeking to do the same, Athens signed a maritime accord with Egypt, which is currently Turkey’s arch foe in the region.