A Turkish energy exploration ship will continue to operate in the Mediterranean Sea, the energy minister said on Friday, after Ankara said the navy stopped a Greek frigate from harassing the ship.
The Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa will be conducting surveys in a sea area of approximately 44,000 square kilometres.
“Turkish Petroleum’s exploration ship will continue its activities in line with Turkey’s rights,” Energy Minister Fatih Donmez told reporters in the western coastal province of Izmir, referring to the state-owned oil company.
Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that the navy had stopped a Greek frigate from harassing the Turkish Petroleum ship in the Mediterranean Sea, calling on Greece to avoid further escalation in the region.
Greece has denied it harassed the frigate.
The Turkish Navtex, or marine advisory, states that the Barbaros will remain in the area until February 1.
The area reserved by the Navtex is located at the notional boundaries of the respective exclusive zones (EEZs) of Cyprus, Greece and Egypt. Due to political reasons, the three countries have officially not delineated their EEZs with respect to one another.
The reserved area also borders Cyprus’ offshore blocks 4 and 5, parts of which Turkey claims fall within its ‘continental shelf’.
Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Tufan Erhurman was quoted on Friday as saying tension was in no one’s interest. He expressed the wish that a smarter way be found. Everyone had rights in this controversial area, he said.
Erhurman said that co-operation and not tension was needed with regard to the natural resources around the island. “With tensions everyone is losing, with co-operation everyone is winning,” he said. As for the issue between Greece and Turkey, he said it was an issue for them to resolve through diplomatic channels.