Turkey has dispatched a seismic vessel to carry out a survey in disputed waters in the East Mediterranean over the next two weeks, in a move that has again enflamed tensions with neighbouring Greece.
"Our MTA Oruc Reis seismic research vessel reached the operation area after departing from Antalya, for its new mission in Mediterranean. 83 million Turkish people support you, Oruc Reis," Turkey's Energy & Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Monday.
A similar attempt by Turkey last month had angered Greece. The dispute was calmed after the intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who persuaded the Ankara administration to agree a pause in operations.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, said on Friday his country had resumed exploration work in the region as Greece "had not kept its promises on the issue".
Greece: 'Political and operational readiness'
Greek Minister of State George Gerapetritis said the Athens administration is in full “political and operational readiness”.
Greece stood ready to engage in a constructive dialogue with Turkey on their differences, he added.
Erdogan’s announcement of the survey came after Egypt and Greece signed an agreement last week, designating an exclusive economic zone between the two nations in the East Mediterranean.
Greece and Turkey have long had disputes around overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the East Mediterranean, posing a danger to natural gas developments in Cyprus where they support rival Greek and Turkish administrations.
The European Union supports the internationally recognised Cyprus government as the sole arbiter of the island’s oil and gas assets, while Turkey insists that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has sovereignty over areas under its control.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after a Greece-backed coup, prompted Turkey to invade and carve up the island between the Turkish Cypriot north and the mainly Greek Cypriot south.