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Turkey’s new seismic survey in Mediterranean set to revive Greek tensions (updated)

Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis

Turkey’s navy has issued an advisory saying that the Turkish ship Oruc Reis will carry out a seismic survey in a disputed area in the eastern Mediterranean over the next two weeks, a step likely to revive tensions with neighbouring Greece.

The two NATO allies are at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region. A similar advisory, or Navtex, last month prompted a dispute which was calmed after the intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leading Turkey to agree a pause in operations.

But President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey had resumed energy exploration work in the region as Greece had not kept its promises on the issue.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was expected to chair a meeting of the government council on foreign affairs and defence issues at 0900 GMT, his office said on Monday.

Minister of State George Gerapetritis told Greek state TV that Athens was in full “political and operational readiness.” Greece stood ready to engage in a constructive dialogue with Turkey on their differences, he said.

The NAVTEX, issued by the Turkish navy’s office of navigation, covered an area of sea south of Turkey’s Antalya and west of Cyprus. It will be in effect between August 10-23.

The Oruc Reis vessel has already reached the location where it will operate after leaving the area where it was anchored off Antalya, Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Twitter.

Seismic surveys are part of preparatory work for potential hydrocarbon exploration. Turkey and Greece are also at odds over issues such as overflights in the Aegean Sea and Cyprus.

Erdogan’s announcement of the new exploration work came after Egypt and Greece signed an accord last Thursday designating an exclusive economic zone between the two nations in the east Mediterranean.

Diplomats in Greece said that agreement nullified an accord reached last year between Turkey and the internationally recognised government of Libya, but Erdogan said Turkey would maintain its agreement with Libya “decisively”.



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