Erdogan says Turkey has resumed drilling in eastern Mediterranean

NATO members Turkey and Greece have long been at loggerheads over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources.

Turkey''s Energy Minister Donmez makes a speech with the Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz in the background at Dilovasi port in Kocaeli
Turkey says a recent agreement between Greece and Egypt cuts through its continental shelf [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced that Turkey has resumed energy exploration work in the eastern Mediterranean, saying Greece had not kept its promises regarding such activities in the region.

NATO members Turkey and Greece have long been at loggerheads over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources and tensions flared up last month, prompting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to hold talks with the country’s leaders to ease tensions.

“We have started drilling work again,” Erdogan told reporters after participating in Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia mosque. “We don’t feel obliged to talk with those who do not have rights in maritime jurisdiction zones.”

He said Turkey’s Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, a seismic survey vessel, had been sent to the region to carry out its duties. The ship moved into waters off Cyprus in late July and remains in that region.

Erdogan made the comments when asked about an accord signed by Egypt and Greece on Thursday designating an exclusive economic zone between the two nations in the eastern Mediterranean.

Diplomats in Greece said their agreement nullified an accord reached last year between Turkey and the internationally recognised government of Libya.

Erdogan, however, dismissed the Egypt-Greece deal, saying Turkey would sustain its agreement with Libya “decisively”. 

Commenting on the agreement, Turkey’s foreign ministry said the zone included in the Greco-Egyptian deal falls under the area of Turkey’s continental shelf.

Ankara has maintained that sea boundaries for commercial exploitation should be divided between the Greek and Turkish mainlands and not include the Greek islands on an equal basis.

Athens contends that Turkey’s position is a violation of international law.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies