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Defying Greece, EU, Turkey Extends East Med Energy Hunt

Αssociated Press

Turkish drilling ship Kanuni is seen docked for maintenance before heading to the Black Sea for drilling operations, at the port of Haydarpasa in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

With the European Union not sure what to do and Greece sending in its Navy, Turkey said the Oruc Reis energy research vessel and warships will stay in the East Mediterranean another two months.

Energy Minister Fatih Donmez made the announcement, showing Turkey has no intention of abiding by calls from the EU to back off after Greece pulled back its demands for sanctions to give diplomacy a chance.

The EU said Turkey has until the end of the year to reach a resolution over the seas dispute that also includes parts of the Aegean with Turkey claiming large swathes of Greek waters under a maritime deal with Libya no other country recognizes.

His statement essentially confirmed Kathimerini's report that Turkey, according to its own calculations, has completed almost half of its initial surveys which means if the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) wants to complete these surveys that work will have to go on at least until the end of November.

A navigational telex (NAVTEX) from Turkey reserved waters near Kastellorizo, saying Turkish vessels would be in the waters as close as 6.5 nautical miles from the island, almost within Greece's 6-mile limit.

There are worries in the Greek government that Turkey will send its Yavuz drill rig where the continental shelves of Greece, Cyprus and Turkey meet which could create a conflict.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who had refused to intervene over repeated Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and vessels, now has stepped in trying to de-escalate the growing tension but admitted the defense alliance to which both countries belong can't do much but encourage talking.