As it prepares for talks with Greek officials in Ankara over plans to drill for energy near Greek islands, Turkey withdrew a drill ship in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with the prospect of facing more European Union sanctions otherwise.
The Turkish drill ship Yavuz was operating southwest of Cyprus and reached the Turkish coast, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed, reported the news agency Reuters, a move seen as defusing tensions in the East Mediterranean for now.
Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus, a member of the EU that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005, bars its ships and planes and claims part of waters around the island where the northern third has been occupied since a 1974 invasion.
The Yavuz vessel first began operations east of Cyprus in July 2019 and its latest operations were going to be extended to Oct. 12 even though Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades withdrew his veto over sanctions on Belarus unless Turkey was also penalized.
Turkish seismic research vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa remains off southeastern Cyprus and its operations there have been extended to Oct. 18 with the EU so far imposing only soft sanctions exempting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.