The seismic vessel Oruc Reis' arrival on Monday in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean, following Turkey's announcement it was resuming energy exploration work, has reignited tensions between two NATO allies with a long history of discord.
Turkey has also launched a two-day naval drill to the east and south of Rhodes and Kastellorizo, signaling that it won’t accept any agreement or move that would limit its own maritime interests in the waters.
The Turkish naval exercise was first announced on August 6 -- the same day Egypt and Greece signed an agreement laying out the maritime boundary between their exclusive economic zones.
The eastern Mediterranean has become an energy hot spot with big finds for European Union member Cyprus and Egypt in recent years, and Turkey’s push to secure a share of the resources has exacerbated strains.
Turkey had earlier put exploration in the area on hold at the request of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to make it easier for her to mediate. Germany on Monday warned Ankara that unilateral action in territorial disputes with Greece could strain its ties with the EU.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently denounced a maritime deal between Greece and Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean as “worthless,” saying his country will resume its controversial oil and gas exploration in the area.
Speaking after Friday prayers in the recently-reconverted Hagia Sophia Mosque, Erdogan said the deal was a supposed response to Turkey’s maritime agreement with Libya’s internationally-recognized government that had been reached last year.