President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the seismic survey ship Oruç Reis has returned to its area of operations as Turkey pursued plans for hydrocarbons exploration in the eastern Mediterranean in the face of international opposition.
Erdoğan made the comments in a televised speech to the deputies of his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara on Wednesday.
Turkey will “not take a step back”, Erdoğan said, adding that Greece and Cyprus have failed to live up to their promises at the European Union and NATO.
The United States and Germany warned Turkey to refrain from provocative actions in the eastern Mediterranean in statements on Tuesday after it issued a NAVTEX on Sunday allowing Oruç Reis to conduct seismic survey work in disputed waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.
The Oruç Reis was last spotted some 80 kilometres south of Kastellorizo under “restricted manoeuvrability” at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to shipping website marinetraffic.com. Its current status is “out of range”, it said.
The European Union’s leaders warned Turkey at the start of the month that it would face economic sanctions as early as December should it continue its “provocative actions” to illegally infringe on the territorial waters of Greece and Cyprus. Erdoğan’s government says Turkey has the legal right to search for hydrocarbons off its coastline.
Turkey and Greece were due to start talks designed to de-escalate political and military tensions this month but no date has been set.