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Turkish vessel restarts drilling tests despite calls to withdraw

Published: Updated:

A Turkish research ship at the center of an energy dispute with Greece has restarted activities in disputed areas of the Mediterranean, Turkey said on Wednesday, defying calls to withdraw.

The United States and Germany, both allies of Turkey, have labelled the gas exploration mission a “provocation” and urged Ankara to recall the ship.

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But Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Wednesday the Oruc Reis vessel had reached its destination and would begin work, with the mission scheduled to last until October 22.

“Tests began yesterday and today we will start the first seismic readings,” Donmez said, according to state news agency Anadolu.

Turkey previously sent the Oruc Reis to the eastern Mediterranean with warships in August, infuriating EU member states Greece and Cyprus and leading to calls by the bloc to immediately stop.

Read more:

US slams Turkey for ‘calculated provocation’ after survey vessel sent near Greece

Greece says no talks with Turkey until vessel withdrawn from contested area

Both sides staged military drills before agreeing to restart exploratory talks on the issue that had stopped in 2016.

But Greece said it would not contemplate a diplomatic solution while the ship remains in an area south of its Kastellorizo island.

Greece claims rights in the waters around the island but Turkey says Kastellorizo is closer to its longer coastline.

The Greece-Turkey dispute will be on the agenda when EU leaders meet at a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday.