A Turkish seismic research vessel has begun surveying for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez said Wednesday.
Turkey’s seismic surveying ship, Oruç Reis, is “taking the x-ray of our seas,” Dönmez said on Twitter.
Dönmez said the vessel had also lowered 1,750 kilometers (1,087 miles) of seismic cables into the Mediterranean.
Turkey dispatched the Oruç Reis and two support vessels to undertake seismic research for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of efforts by Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration and Egypt to limit Turkey to its mainland.
Ankara was angered by a maritime delimitation deal Greece signed with Egypt on Thursday and accused Athens of trying to block it in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkish officials said the deal came as Turkey and Greece were making progress in informal talks brokered by Berlin.
Turkey stressed that the agreement, which further sparked tensions between the two neighbors, violates its continental shelf and maritime rights.
Ankara on Monday announced that it would respond by continuing exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece has called on Turkey to withdraw vessels from the area. Turkey said Tuesday it would not back away from its search activities, adding that it plans to issue new exploration licenses for the area.
Ankara announced that the Oruç Reis would be operating in the Mediterranean Sea until Aug. 23. The vessel arrived in the area Monday morning, escorted by Turkish warships. Greek warships were in the area monitoring the vessel, and the military was on alert, officials said.
Turkey has long contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry shared a map Monday showing the areas in its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) where the Oruç Reis would be active.
The area of operation authorized by Turkey includes parts of Greece’s so-called maritime jurisdiction where Athens wants adjacent EEZs with the Greek Cypriot administration.
Thus, Turkey showed in the field that the Greek-Greek Cypriot plan was void and that the so-called contiguous maritime jurisdiction areas, which aim to surround the Anatolian peninsula, were invalid.
Ankara, therefore, gave the message that it would protect the contact between Turkey and Libya's continental shelves, which Greece and Egypt sought to cut off with their agreement.