Turkey has extended its exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean, despite European threats to impose sanctions on it, and stressed at the same time that it considers its accession to the European Union a strategic priority.
Ankara announced today, Saturday, the extension of the mission of the research ship “Oruc Reis” in the eastern Mediterranean until 29 November.
According to a new Turkish maritime notification through the Naftex system, the ship will continue its work alongside two Turkish ships, Ataman and Genghis Khan.
This development comes in light of assurances by Ankara that the European threats to impose sanctions on it will not intimidate it, and that it will not give up its rights in the region.
In the context, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Turkish ships continue their scientific and technical work in energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
In statements he made during his visit with a number of chiefs of staff at the headquarters of a company specializing in defense industries in Ankara, and reported today by the Anadolu News Agency, Akar refused to describe the Turkish exploration work as a provocation, or as a reason for escalating tension.
He said that the Greek side is arming the islands in the Aegean Sea in violation of international law, adding that Turkey supports a political solution and good-neighborly relations.
According to the Anadolu Agency, the flagship Aruj can conduct three-dimensional seismic surveys with a depth of 8,000 meters, and two-dimensional seismic surveys with a depth of 15,000 meters.
The ship, which has a crew of 55 people – including 24 sailors and 31 administrators and researchers – contains a home-made submersible vehicle that is remotely managed and has systems for mapping the sea floor, measuring and sampling.
It also contains geological laboratories, oceanography, and equipment that can take basic samples from the sea floor.
Meanwhile, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that his country considers its accession to the European Union a strategic priority, calling on European leaders to make progress in this direction.
During separate meetings in Brussels with the chief foreign policy adviser to the President of the European Council, the head of the European Commission president’s office, and the Secretary General of the European Union’s External Relations Department, Kalin stressed the need to take concrete steps in many files such as modernizing the customs union, the asylum seekers’ agreement, and the exemption Turks from the visa requirement, and political dialogue.
He made clear that the European leaders should put aside all their ideological and political preconceptions, stressing that relations between Turkey and the European Union should not be held hostage to bilateral disputes.
The Turkish spokesman pointed out the increasing importance of the strategic relations between his country and the European Union, and that it needs to take concrete steps to give it a new impetus, increase cooperation, and enhance mutual trust between the two parties.
He called for inventing new ideas for a just and lasting solution in Cyprus, and expressed Turkey’s readiness to start exploratory meetings with Greece in this regard, stressing that Ankara would continue its constructive stance in order to maintain peace and stability in the divided island.
He also called on the European Union to fulfill its responsibilities regarding regional issues, stressing that dialogue and cooperation in this regard is in the interest of all.
The statements of the Turkish presidential spokesman come amid tensions between Ankara and the European Union in the midst of the ongoing conflict between Turkey on the one hand and Greece and Greek Cyprus on the other hand over the exploitation of energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as the Cyprus crisis, which all efforts to resolve politically have failed.
While Turkey has been waiting for decades to grant it membership in the European Union, and confirms that it has fulfilled all the necessary conditions, the Union says that it has not yet met its standards with regard to human rights and other issues, and member states of the Union – such as France – take a stance against Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Who has been threatening to impose sanctions on Ankara for some time with the escalation of the conflict in the eastern Mediterranean.
On Thursday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that European leaders will discuss the future of relations between Turkey and the European Union at their summit scheduled for next December, following statements by the High Representative for the Union’s foreign and security policy Josep Borrell, in which he said that “the situation is deteriorating with regard to relations with Turkey. “.
Borrell’s statements came after a report issued last October by the European Commission, in which it stated, in particular, that Turkey’s accession has become farther than ever before, strongly criticizing the Turkish government’s policies regarding democracy, independence of the judiciary and the economy.