Oct 14, 2020 ISTANBUL — A Turkish seismic analysis ship escorted by naval frigates started power prospecting actions Wednesday in contested tracts of the japanese Mediterranean, renewing disputes between Ankara and Athens over maritime boundaries. Following a short pause for upkeep, Turkey’s Oruc Reis vessel redeployed Monday and reached an space near the Greek island of Kastellorizo two miles off the Turkish coast, the place it started conducting fuel discovery actions Wednesday, in line with Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez. The move was condemned earlier this week by leaders in Athens, Brussels and Washington, who referred to as on Ankara to hunt diplomatic options in settling long-simmering disputes with neighboring Greece concerning overlapping maritime claims within the area. Speaking to lawmakers Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned Greece and Cyprus didn’t uphold commitments made throughout negotiations inside the EU and NATO following a string of territorial spats over the summer time. “We will continue to give Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration — who fail to keep their promises at the EU and NATO platforms — the answer they deserve on the ground,” Erdogan informed members of the ruling Justice and Development Party. The developments come after tensions appeared to ease final week between the NATO allies when the Greek and Turkish overseas ministers agreed to pursue exploratory talks. The Greek Foreign Ministry denounced the redeployment of the Oruc Reis and its accompanying vessels in a press release Monday, saying Ankara was undermining efforts towards dialogue by “systematically” ignoring worldwide legislation. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas additionally condemned the choice Tuesday whereas talking in Athens after cancelling a scheduled go to to Ankara earlier this week. Maas mentioned power prospecting near Kastellorizo would pose a “serious blow” to efforts to scale back tensions between the EU and Turkey. In response, Ankara maintained the Oruc Reis was deployed following provocative acts by Athens, together with current navy drills within the Aegean Sea on a Turkish nationwide vacation. Over the weekend, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi additionally ratified an Aug. 6 maritime settlement between Cairo and Athens demarcating a shared boundary between the 2 nations, which overlaps Turkish claims within the area by way of a November 2019 Ankara-Tripoli settlement. On Monday, Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun tweeted that Ankara stays dedicated to diplomacy, “But there can be no negotiations if you say ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours [is] negotiable.’” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias mentioned Tuesday that Athens wouldn’t participate in bilateral talks so long as the Oruc Reis stays in disputed waters. The ship is at the moment scheduled to conduct seismic analysis till Oct. 22. Amid the heightened tensions, Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher on the PRIO Cyprus Centre and co-founder of Geopolitical Cyprus, mentioned Ankara could be reacting to warnings from EU leaders who, following an Oct. 1-2 summit, concluded the bloc might impose sanctions if Turkey continued “provocations” within the japanese Mediterranean. Tziarras added that Erdogan’s overseas affairs agenda might also be propelled by “challenges his government faces domestically,” together with a weakened economic system on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Turkey’s ‘gas surveys’ are not primarily about gas but about sovereignty and politics,” Tziarras informed Al-Monitor. In addition to the Oruc Reis, Turkey’s Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa seismic vessel is constant power prospecting actions near Cyprus and will probably be joined by the Yavuz drillship following upkeep work, Erdogan mentioned Wednesday. While Turkey’s power prospecting actions will not be on the agenda for an upcoming Oct. 15-16 EU summit, Greek and Cypriot leaders mentioned they are going to as soon as once more elevate the maritime dispute with bloc leaders. Ankara’s newest escalation was condemned by EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell, however an unnamed German official informed Reuters Wednesday the EU was unlikely to impose sanctions on Ankara after this week’s summit. Michael Tanchum, a professor of worldwide relations on the University of Navarra and senior fellow on the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, mentioned from Ankara’s perspective, it’s an “opportune time” to stake claims within the Aegean and japanese Mediterranean Sea following Ankara’s rising leverage within the regional battle areas and rising home help. “The battlefield successes of Turkish-backed Azerbaijani forces has made Turkey’s use of coercive force in international relations even more popular,” Tanchum informed Al-Monitor. Noting the EU postponed a choice on Turkey’s actions within the japanese Mediterranean till December, Tanchum mentioned, “Ankara probably judged that there would be little cost imposed by Brussels, Berlin or Washington” for taking a extra assertive posture within the area. Also on Wednesday, Erdogan mentioned he would announce a brand new determine on Oct. 17 for lately found fuel reserves in Turkey’s Black Sea area. The discover, initially introduced in August, was estimated to carry 320 billion cubic meters of fuel and has since undergone additional evaluation.