After Friday prayers, President Erdogan expressed his willingness to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis personally or over video call to discuss de-escalation of tensions in the Mediterranean, according to reports in the Turkish press today.
Currently, the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis is back at its home port near Antalya, in southern Turkey. It will reportedly remain there while it undergoes routine maintenance.
The Oruc Reis had returned to Turkey on Sunday after conducting extensive research missions for possible energy deposits in the eastern Mediterranean, in between the island of Crete and the nation of Cyprus.
The ship, often accompanied by naval vessels, had repeatedly encroached on Greece’s maritime territory, leading to such strained relations between the two countries that the issue had to be taken up by the security council of the European Union.
Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly stated that the vessel may continue its research in the eastern Mediterranean after maintenance, Greek officials consider the move an important step in easing the tensions between the neighboring countries.
Members of the European Union have welcomed Turkey’s step toward reducing tensions, yet they have stated that they remain firmly committed to supporting Greece and Cyprus in case of further provocations from Turkey.
On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged Turkey’s positive step toward diplomacy, while warning against any other acts of aggression, stating that Turkey must “refrain from unilateral actions,” according to AMNA.
Turkey’s quest for energy sources in the region’s seas has caused relations with Greece to reach a boiling point, as Turkey disputes the extent of Greece’s sea borders in the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkish officials have even openly threatened recently to occupy Greek islands such as Kastellorizo, which are located inside Greece’s sea borders in the eastern Mediterranean, just off the coast of Turkey.