Is the Withdrawal of the Oruc Reis a Turkish Ploy Before EU Summit?



The Turkish oil exploration vessel Oruc Reis. Credit: AMNA

Turkey ordered its seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis back to port on Monday — less than two weeks before a European Union summit at which the bloc will evaluate possible sanctions against Ankara.

The vessel, which had been spotted just seven miles off the coast of the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Thursday, has for some time been sailing in waters atop Greece’s continental shelf.

Turkey withdrew Oruc Reis from the area ahead of a previous EU summit in October to “allow for diplomacy,” but later sent it back after what it called unsatisfactory outcomes from the summit. Earlier this month, Turkey said the Oruc Reis would operate in the region until November 29.

The Turkish Energy Ministry said on Monday the vessel had completed a mission which started on August 10. “Our ship, which has collected 10,995 km of 2D seismic data, has returned to the Antalya port,” it said in a tweet.

Greece has warned that last-minute “goodwill” gestures by Turkey are little more than a ploy, and asked the EU to impose sanctions.

“Turkey has left no room for any kind of positive agenda at the forthcoming European Council,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement earlier in November.

He added that any last-minute “goodwill” gesture by Turkey now will be little more than a ploy and that “it’s not easy to fool the European Union.”