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19 September, 2020
 
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Turkey resumes drilling in eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan says

Turkey's President said it resumed drilling operation after Greece, through the signing of a maritime accord with Egypt, went back on its promises

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey had resumed energy exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean as Greece had not kept its promises regarding suspending similar activities in the region.

NATO members Turkey and Greece have long been at loggerheads over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources and tensions flared up last month, prompting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to hold talks with the country's leaders to ease tensions.

"We have started drilling work again," Erdogan told reporters after participating in Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia mosque. "We don't feel obliged to talk with those who do not have rights in maritime jurisdiction zones."

“Merkel laid down one request,” Ergodan said. “She told me that in the event that I suspended operations [of the Oruc Reis], her job would become easier. I responded: “If you trust Greece and the others, we’ll suspend operations for 3-4 weeks, but I don’t trust them, you’ll see that they won’t keep their word.” And so the tripartite deliberations began between Greece, Turkey, and Germany. What will happen now that promises have not been kept? We immediately resume drillings.”

He said Turkey's Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, a seismic survey vessel, had been sent to the region to carry out its duties. The ship moved into waters off Cyprus in late July and remains in that region.

Erdogan made the comments when asked about an accord signed by Egypt and Greece on Thursday designating an exclusive economic zone between the two nations in the east Mediterranean.

Diplomats in Greece said their agreement nullified an accord reached last year between Turkey and the internationally recognised government of Libya.

However, Erdogan said the Egypt-Greece accord was of no value and that Turkey would sustain its agreement with Libya "decisively". The Turkish Foreign Ministry has said the Egypt-Greece zone falls in the area of Turkey's continental shelf.

Turkey and Greece are also at odds over a range of issues from flights over each other's territory in the Aegean Sea to Cyprus.

EU foreign affairs chief urges Greek-Turkish dialogue

The European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, is urging Turkey and Greece not to give up on efforts to bridge their differences and to continue to “work in good faith.”

“Good EU-Turkey relations are in the interest of all; we need to jointly address differences through dialogue and avoid unilateral actions,” Borrell said in a post on Twitter on Friday, following talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Malta.

The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, he added, “requires sustained de-escalation, concrete action and work in good faith, in accordance with international law.”

Borrell also said that EU relations with Turkey will be on the agenda of talks at an informal meeting of foreign ministers in Berlin at the end of the month.

TAGS
Turkey  |  Greece  |  Egypt  |  energy  |  drilling  |  natural gas  |  Eastern Mediterranean  |  Erdogan  |  Germany  |  maritime  |  zone  |  EEZ

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