Turkey extends exploration mission of three research ships in Mediterranean

ANKARA – Turkish authorities announced extending the mission of three of their ships in the eastern Mediterranean. The announcement comes amid continuing tensions in the region, especially with Greece. The Turkish Navy issued a communique stating that the ships Oruc Reis, Ataman”, and Cengiz Han will continue their exploring for energy sources, south of the Greek island of Rhodes until 27 October. The ships were initially planned to operate in the region until 22 October.

Exploration ship Oruc Reis left Antalya port on 12 October, to begin its mission in the eastern Mediterranean in waters that Greece claims part of its exclusive economic zone. On 13 September, the Oruc Reis has anchored in the port of Antalya for “maintenance operations” after it carried out seismic exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean but later was sent back to sea.

The mission of the Oruc Reis represents a major source of tension between Turkey and Greece, and therefore between Turkey and the EU. The European Union had previously threatened the Turkish authorities to impose sanctions on Turkey if it took new provocative measures in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara, however, has repeatedly confirmed its continued exploration in those waters and considers them to be Turkish.