Turkey Rocks Boat, Orders Survey Ship Back Out to Sea
The Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis, at the crux of last month’s flare-up of tensions with NATO-ally Greece, is headed back to contested Eastern Mediterranean waters to search for possible hydrocarbon deposits. The move, announced by Turkey’s navy, is likely to further increase tensions between Ankara and Athens, as well as with the Republic of Cyprus, all of which lay overlapping claims to maritime economic zones. Last month, Turkey calmed tensions by recalling the ship from a similar exploration voyage in the Aegean, something observers took as a sign of willingness for negotiations with Greece. No date has been set for such talks though a week ago, the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers met in Slovakia for the highest-level contacts since the tensions began. Earlier this month, the European Union threatened sanctions against Turkey if it did not cease energy exploration in these disputed maritime areas. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is scheduled to visit Ankara later this week, according to Turkish sources, and the Eastern Mediterranean maritime dispute will be among the topics discussed.