ANKARA – Stepping up his belligerence ahead of a tough 2023 election, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will send an energy research vessel into the East Mediterranean, challenging Greece.
While the Oruc Reis likely won’t get into Greek waters, Kathimerini said
Turkey issued a Navigational Telex (NAVTEX) reserving more areas off Turkey’s coast in the Gulf of Antalya.
Turkey has disputed Greece’s claims to some parts of the Aegean and East Mediterranean and claimed them under a deal with Libya, dividing the seas between them, which no other country recognizes.
The initial reports about the movement of the Oruc Reis came in Kathimerini which said the NAVTEX covers the period from Sept. 25 until March, 2023, a few month before Greek elections as well.
That’s seen as testing and pressuring Prime Minister Kyriakis Mitsotakis as Erdogan has ramped up tensions and what Greek officials were said to believe is playing to a nationalist base for the elections there.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez made the announcement about the Oruc Reis heading into the region where it will operate near another Turkish energy vessel, the Abdulhamid Han drillship.
The paper said there are indications that there could be fields of hydrocarbons in the area as Greece and Turkey are hunting for energy and Turkish ships are drilling unlawfully in Cypriot waters with impunity.
Despite the activity it was not seen as likely that Turkey would again, as it did in 2020, venture into areas around the island of Kastellorizo, nor Rhodes, which comprise the easternmost part of Greece’s sea territory.
At the United Nations General Assembly annual opening in New York, Prime Minister, in a meeting with Israeli Premier Yair Lapid, accused Turkey of “extreme aggressive rhetoric” and “unacceptable claims that challenge Greek sovereignty,” the paper said.