Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis returns to its port, as Greece calls on EU to impose sanctions on Turkey

30 November 2020
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After 49 days of seismic surveys in a large sea area that included the Greek continental shelf, Turkish research ship Oruc Reis returned to the port of Antalya.

The Turkish vessel has been in the port of Antalya for a few hours after sailing for 49 days in the regions east of Rhodes and south of Kastellorizo ​​where it carried out -according to the Turks- seismic surveys in a zone that covered the Greek continental shelf.

The return of the Oruc Reis to Antalya cannot be understood as an interruption of its research activities, nor should it be considered a gesture of goodwill by Erdogan, as Turkish Ministers of Energy, Defence, and Foreign Affairs had made it clear from the outset that the vessel’s surveys were scheduled to last three months.

It is clear that Turkish authorities have not strayed a little from their decision, and in fact, there were dozens of instances where the Oruc Reis and the Turkish fleet of the five warships that accompanied it apparently conducted searches less than 12 nautical miles from the Kastellorizo complex and Rhodes.

The Turkish research vessel conducted activities for a little under 2 months and after completing 2-dimensional images surveying of the Greek continental shelf, it returned to the port of Antalya. Considering the first phase of the surveys by the Oruc Reis, which started on August 10 and lasted 45 days, it becomes apparent the Turkish fleet of the three survey ships (Oruc Reis, Ataman, Cengiz Han) sailed for more than three months in a large a maritime area in which the Turks unilaterally lay sovereign right claims to exploit potential hydrocarbon deposits, despite the fact that the area Ankara is trying to establish fait accompli is within the maritime zones that under international law belong under Greek jurisdiction.

The completion of Oruc Reis’s activities coincides with the forthcoming EU Summit on 10 and 11 December in Brussels, where Greece and a large bloc of European countries are urging Germany to propose tougher economic measures under the Ankara regime. It is now clear that Tayyip Erdogan is expected to try to present Oruc Reis’ return to Antalya as a so-called gesture of goodwill, in order to block the imposition of sanctions by the EU.

Athens has repeatedly told the EU that it will not give in to pressure from strong partners and allies to start a full-blown dialogue with Ankara immediately and unconditionally, and is trying to outline the sanctions that a large group of European countries want to impose on Turkey for the aggression of recent months in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean.

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