Turkey to end Eastern Mediterranean gas exploration mission

After three extensions to its seismic survey activities, Turkey’s Oruc Reis vessel will today conclude its most recent round of

Turkey ReutersIndia

Photo: Reuters India

After three extensions to its seismic survey activities, Turkey’s Oruc Reis vessel will today conclude its most recent round of drilling in disputed Eastern Mediterranean waters.

In recent months, the Oruc Reis has become the centerpiece of a simmering dispute between Turkey and Greece, which have been at odds with each other over conflicting claims in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas for decades. The recent discoveries of hydrocarbon reserves in the East Mediterranean has upped the ante, raising tensions to levels unseen since 1996, when the two NATO allies nearly went to war over a pair of uninhabited islands in the Aegean. Despite the threat of EU sanctions, the absence of a credible mediation mechanism between the two sides signals that Turkey’s drilling activities are likely to continue beyond today’s end date.

Although Germany and NATO have failed to resolve the crisis thus far, Ankara and Athens are unlikely willing to bear the consequences of a regional war. Neither the Turkish nor Greek economies can endure such a conflict as both heavily depend on the Mediterranean for their respective trade and commerce. Furthermore, kinetic engagement between two NATO allies could endanger the alliance’s very existence. Despite the precarious nature of the situation, brinksmanship followed by negotiation is likely to bring the matter to an eventual diplomatic resolution.

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