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Turkey Vows to Resume Eastern Mediterranean Drilling “Soon”

The Turkish vessel Oruc Reis is escorted into Greek waters by five Turkish Navy vessels on Monday, August 10, 2020. On Friday, Turkey stated it will resume drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean. Photo: Turkish Defense Ministry.

Turkey will “soon” resume its seismic and drilling activities in the seabed under the Eastern Mediterranean, according to statements made by Fatih Donmez, the country’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister, on Friday.

“The (seismic vessel) Oruc Reis continues its seismic surveys off the coast of Antalya,” he stated, before going on to name two other vessels that Turkey has employed in oil and gas exploration in recent years.

“Barbaros went for long-term maintenance and is in the shipyards in Tuzla. Yavouz is completing its supplies and will soon return to its planned work in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he told Turkish network A Haber.

Donmez then went on to mention Turkey’s seismic surveys, which are ongoing in the Black Sea.

US Secretary of State expresses concern for Turkey’s behavior

On March 11, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his concern for Turkey’s provocative actions against Greece, such as its violations of the airspace of other countries, which was ongoing al during 2020.

Testifying before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken said that the United States has spoken up about actions that violate international law in the Eastern Mediterranean — which includes Turkey’s actions against Greece.

“We have looked with real concern over the last year and of course more recently, at some of the actions taken in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly by Turkey, in terms of various claims,” Blinken said.

“It is very important that the US stands up and engages in advancing stability sovereignty and territorial integrity of all parties in Eastern Mediterranean and insists that any disputes that arise will be resolved peacefully, diplomatically, not militarily, not through provocative actions,” he added.

“We have called out actions, including by Turkey, that violate international law or commitments as NATO ally and that includes provocative actions against Greece like violations of airspace,” the Secretary of State added.

Greek and US Defense Ministers speak together about Turkey

Meanwhile on Friday, it was reported in Greek and Turkish media that Greece’s Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos had spoken to his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin III, on Thursday about Turkey’s problematical behavior in the eastern Mediterranean all during last year.

Before making contact with Panagiotopoulos, which sources claim took place after Austin reached out to him, the U.S. Defense secretary had also spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Hulusi Akar.

However, that conversation appears to have revolved around the appointment of a Turkish head of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the mutual cooperation between US and Turkish forces in recent military exercises in the Black Sea, according to a Tweet posted by Austin.

It was reported that Panagiotopoulos recited a detailed account of recent Greek-Turkish relations to the new US Defense Secretary, focusing on the deleterious effects of Turkey’s ongoing predations in the Eastern Mediterranean might negatively affect NATO cohesion and the overall security of the region.

Austin and Panagiotopoulos also expressed their sincere intentions of expanding and further deepening the already-existing Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between Greece and the US.

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