Turkey once again extended on Sunday the mission of a gas exploration vessel in an area it disputes with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, despite protests from Athens which denounces this “illegal activity”.
The Turkish Navy warned in a message on the NAVTEX Maritime Warning System that the seismic research vessel Oruç Reis would continue its mission until November 14.
The announcement comes as Turkey and Greece, both bereaved by an earthquake, have shown their solidarity in recent days.
The deployment of the ship, which has become a symbol of Ankara’s gas appetites, has escalated tensions with Athens in recent months.
Greece accuses Turkey of violating international maritime law by prospecting in its waters, especially around the island of Kastellorizo, and calls for European sanctions against Ankara.
Turkey maintains that it has the right to conduct energy research in this area of the eastern Mediterranean, arguing that the presence of the small island of Kastellorizo near its coast is not enough to impose sovereignty over Athens.
In a gesture of appeasement, Ankara withdrew the Oruc Reis in September, before deploying it again on October 12, extending its mission several times since.
Athens has stepped up its protests against the dismissal of the Orus Reis, denouncing its “illegal activity” and considering it a “direct threat to peace and security in the region”.