President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday said Turkey would give Greece "the response they deserve" as he accused it and the Greek Cypriot administration of failing to fulfill promises made to resolve the Eastern Mediterranean energy dispute, during negotiations at the European Union and NATO.
"We will continue to give Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration the response they deserve. They have not kept their promises made during talks within the EU and NATO platforms," Erdoğan told the parliamentary group of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in the capital Ankara.
His remarks come after the country's seismic exploration vessel, Oruç Reis, was redeployed and arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday for further exploration.
"Our Oruç Reis has returned to its duty in the Mediterranean," Erdoğan said.
The vessel left Antalya Port early Monday morning to carry out activities south of the island of Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis) until Oct. 22, following the declaration of a 10-day Navtex in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Navtex is a maritime communications system that allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in the area.
The vessel will carry out seismic studies together with two other vessels, the Ataman and Cengiz Han.
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said a series of tests were launched Tuesday with the first seismic data expected to be received later Wednesday.
Turkish media reported two navy frigates were accompanying the vessel.
Ankara says the Oruç Reis was redeployed following provocation from Athens, including a decision to hold military drills in the Aegean Sea on Turkey's main national holiday.
The Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa seismic vessel is also continuing its exploration of the Mediterranean, Erdoğan said, adding that the drillship Yavuz too would return to the region after maintenance works.
Turkish officials have been accusing the Greek authorities of engaging in a series of "provocations" despite efforts to revive the so-called exploratory talks between the neighbors, aimed at resolving disputes.
Turkey has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Ankara has recently sent its drillships looking for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its own rights in the region as well as those of the TRNC.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiation.
Carrot and stick approach to Turkey failing
Meanwhile, the EU held a summit earlier this month to discuss economic sanctions on Ankara, aimed at curbing its natural gas explorations. However, the Oct. 2 summit statement did not provide details.
According to officials and experts, the EU's latest strategy to defuse tensions with Ankara is unraveling.
Three European diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday that Turkey's redeployment of Oruç Reis gives the impression that Ankara is toying with Brussels.
EU leaders have left themselves exposed as they failed to come up with a solution to the gas dispute, instead proposing a "carrot-and-stick" approach – offering multiple benefits but also threatening sanctions – that appears to have failed, the diplomats and one EU official said.
"EU leaders kicked the can down the road by saying they would come back to the issue in December. Now it is coming back with a vengeance," one diplomat said, referring to reports of Turkish and Greek navy exercises planned for late October.
Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter on Monday that Turkey was committed to diplomacy but "there can be no negotiations if you say 'what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable.'"
"What's failed is the credibility of the EU's offer, it was not concrete enough," said Sinan Ülgen, a former Turkish diplomat at Istanbul-based Carnegie Europe.
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