It is not Turkey that escalates tensions in the Aegean and the Mediterranean, but rather Greece and Greek Cypriots says Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis is escorted by Turkish Navy ships as it sets sail in the Mediterranean Sea, off Antalya, Turkey, August 10, 2020.
Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis is escorted by Turkish Navy ships as it sets sail in the Mediterranean Sea, off Antalya, Turkey, August 10, 2020. (Reuters)

Turkey has strongly rebuffed the US' recent statement on the country's survey activity in the Eastern Mediterranean, calling it a "serious inconsistency."

"The US has already declared that the Seville Map, representing the maximalist maritime jurisdiction claims of the Greek/Greek Cypriot duo, does not have any legal significance. It is thus a serious contradiction for the US to criticize Oruç Reis’ seismic survey activities as carried out within the Turkish continental shelf," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy in a statement on Tuesday.

Aksoy further noted that the same "inconsistency" is also observed among some EU countries' statements.

The statement came shortly after US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus described Turkey's survey activity in the Eastern Mediterranean as a "provocation."

"We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece," Ortagus said.

The party increasing tensions in the Aegean and the Mediterranean is not Turkey, but rather the Greek Cypriot Administration and Greece, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Aksoy added.

He also said the ministry has shared information with the public about “escalatory steps of Greece since September 12.”

READ MORE: Turkey sends Oruc Reis seismic vessel back to East Med

Renewed efforts of Oruc Reis in the Eastern Mediterranean will be within the Turkish continental shelf hundreds of kilometres away from the Greek mainland, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.

It urged Greece to withdraw its maximalist demands, end military drills that escalate regional tensions, and establish sincere dialogue through exploratory talks.

Greece sets conditions to sit for talks with Turkey

Greece will not sit for exploratory talks with Turkey as long as Oruc Reis vessel remains in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek foreign minister said Tuesday.

During a news conference with his Canadian counterpart, Francois-Philippe Champagne, Nikos Dendias accused Turkey of not being a “credible interlocutor” after Turkey's 10-day Navtex (navigational telex) in the region.

Meanwhile, Champagne said Canada is in favour of a dialogue to resolve the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean.

He added that they are also in contact with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg regarding the issue.

The top Canadian diplomat also met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss bilateral relations and the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey and Greece agreed to hold the 61st round of exploratory talks in Istanbul soon.

The 60th round, the last of the exploratory talks initiated between the two countries in 2002, was held in Athens on March 1, 2016.

After this date, the bilateral negotiations continued in the form of political consultations but did not return to an exploratory framework.

Eastern Mediterranean dispute

In August, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal, spurning Turkey's goodwill gesture in halting its search.

Declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal "null and void," Turkey authorised the Oruc Reis to continue activities in an area within Turkey's continental shelf.

Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara has also said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration of southern Cyprus.

Source: AA