Rather than reacting against Turkey’s navigational telex or Navtex in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece should positively respond to Ankara’s calls to hold diplomatic talks to resolve the matter, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy said Saturday.
Aksoy’s statement came after Turkey said it was extending the seismic survey work being carried out by its Oruç Reis ship in the Eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29.
“Turkey will continue to protect its rights and the Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the Eastern Mediterranean with determination,” Aksoy said and added: “Greece should positively respond to our calls for dialogue rather than making statements every time we issue a Navtex.”
Survey work was expected to end by Nov. 23, but a Turkish Navtex said on Saturday the vessel would continue work in an area west of Cyprus for six more days.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey had acted patiently on the Eastern Mediterranean issue despite what he called provocations by Greece and Greek Cypriots.
“EU accusations … about our determined research and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean to protect Turkey’s rights and Turkish Cypriot interests do not reflect history, law and reality,” Erdoğan said in a speech.
There has been increased friction between Turkey and its Eastern Mediterranean neighbors, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, over offshore energy exploration rights in the past few months. Turkey, the country with the longest coastline on the Eastern Mediterranean, has sent drillships with a military escort to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also have rights in the region.
Turkey has demanded that the array of disagreements it has with Greece be handled as a whole. Those include territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, the continental shelf, demilitarization of the islands, the legal status of geographical formations, the width of national air space and search and rescue operations.