Greece Welcomes Departure of Turkish Research Vessel as “Sign of De-Escalation”



Turkey ordered the research vessel, Oruc Reis, back to its homeport. File photo

Greece welcomed on Sunday the reported departure of the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis from the sea area south of Kastellorizo, where the ship was conducting seismic research.

“The return of Oruc Reis to Antalya is a positive first step,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

“I really hope this first step be followed by others. If there are steps towards this direction, Greece is ready to start a new cycle of exploratory contacts with Turkey,” he told a press conference in Thessaloniki.

“Greece has strong alliances and dialogue is the only way. Dialogue in good faith is the main way to deal with the only problem we have, which is the delimitation of maritime zones,” he added.

Earlier on Saturday, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that the ship’s return to the home port of Antalya is “a positive step towards de-escalation.”

Speaking to SKAI TV, Petsas stressed that the Greek government expects the de-escalation to continue and added that, if it does, Greece is ready to restart contacts and dialogue with Turkey.

“We ready to recapture the thread of exploratory contacts from where Turkey cut it in March 2016,” the spokesman said, adding however, that future talks would be centered on the “only difference between the two counties, which is the delimitation of maritime zones.”

On August 31, despite opposition from Greece and other countries, Ankara again extended the duration of the Oruc Reis’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean through September 12.

On Saturday, Turkey did not renew it’s mission.