Greece will not engage in exploratory talks with Turkey as long as Turkish survey vessel Oruç Reis remains in the area, the Greek government spokesperson Stelios Petsas said Tuesday.
"As long as the Oruç Reis is in the area we will not hold exploratory contacts with Turkey," Petsas told Greece-based Skai Radio.
On Monday, Greece said Ankara's decision to send the vessel close to Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis), a Greek island near the Turkish coast, was a "major escalation" and a "direct threat to peace in the region."
Turkey had withdrawn the vessel from contested waters in the Eastern Mediterranean last month to "allow diplomacy" before an EU summit at which sanctions against Turkey were discussed.
However, last week, Turkey issued a new Navtex for the Oruç Reis to carry out activities south of Kastellorizo until Oct. 22.
In September, the two Mediterranean countries agreed to hold exploratory talks. The upcoming exploratory talks will be the 61st of its kind, as the two countries started to have exploratory talks on problems in the Eastern Mediterranean on March 12, 2002, with an aim to come up with a fair, sustainable and inclusive solution.
These talks continued regularly up until 2016. However, no new rounds have been held since, due to the political conjecture and the Greek side's reluctance.
Turkey has demanded that disagreements it has with Greece be handled as a whole. Those include territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, the continental shelf, demilitarization of the islands, the legal status of geographical formations, the width of national air space and search and rescue operations.
Turkey also demands that the topics of the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones (EEZ) should be approached with equitable principles, unlike Greece's current expansionist approach.
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