Turkey suspends “for a while” Mediterranean energy gas and oil search

Turkey suspends "for a while" gas and oil search of one of its vessels in Eastern Mediterranean, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin says.

Turkey has said it could pause energy-exploration operations in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea for a while pending talks with Greece.

In an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his aides to “be constructive and put this on hold for some time”.

“Despite this our president said while the negotiations are continuing, let’s be constructive and hold (energy search) for a while,” he said. 

Turkish vessel “Oruc Reis” planned to search for hydrocarbons “180 kilometres from the island of Meis (Kastellorizo in Greek)”, Kalin told the private broadcaster.

Tensions over hydrocarbon drilling 

Last week, Turkey announced plans to dispatch a research vessel and two support vessels to carry out operations through August 2 in the area that Ankara says is on its continental shelf.

Greece’s navy last week said it had deployed ships in the Aegean in “heightened readiness” after Turkey announced plans for energy exploration in the region.

NATO allies Greece and Turkey are at odds over drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has accused Greece of trying to exclude it from the benefits of oil and gas finds in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, arguing that sea boundaries for commercial exploitation should be divided between the Greek and Turkish mainlands and not include the Greek islands on an equal basis. 

Athens counters that Turkey’s position is a violation of international law.

“Everyone should continue working on their own continental shelves and conduct joint work in contested areas,” Kalin said. 

He also said that bilateral issues with Greece should be solved through dialogue rather than through threats on Turkey’s bid for European Union membership.

Greece ready to negotiate

On Monday, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that Turkey was withdrawing navy vessels from the area, adding that Athens remained ready to enter negotiations with Turkey “within the framework of international law and good neighbourly relations”.

Kalin on Tuesday said Greece was an “important neighbour” to Turkey and added: “We are ready to discuss (all disputes) with Greece without any conditions.”

Arab Observer

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