Istanbul, 28 July 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Turkey will temporarily pause its energy exploration surveys in the eastern Mediterranean, which have inflamed tensions with Greece, a presidential spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “let’s be constructive and put it on hold for a while,” spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told broadcaster CNN Turk in an interview.
NATO members Turkey and Greece have long been at odds about Ankara’s exploratory drills for hydrocarbons in the area, which Athens insists is its exclusive zone.
Kalin said Turkey and Greece should resolve their issues through dialogue.
“You won’t be able to get results by using EU membership as an element of pressure,” he said, referring to warnings to Ankara about its languishing bid for European Union membership.
Last week, Turkey issued an advisory for seismic surveys in waters between Cyprus and Crete. The vessel, Oruc Reis, was to conduct research in an area where Turkey had awarded licences to energy company TPAO in 2012.
Ankara contests Athens’ claims to the continental shelf based on the presence of its islands, saying they are 580 kilometres away from the Greek mainland.
Greece has previously warned Turkey against sending its ships to the area.
“Greece is our important neighbour,” Kalin said. “Everyone should continue to work on their own continental shelf, and joint studies will be carried out in controversial regions.”