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Turkish research vessel leaves the disputed zone.

Image Credit: Reuters

The Turkish research vessel, Oruc Reis, has left the disputed waters in Eastern Mediterranean, a move which has been considered as a positive sign by Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsokatis, ‘This is a positive first step. I hope there will be more of them.’

Oruc Reis, a seismic research vessel was deployed on August 10 in a disputed area near the island of Kastellorizo. The vessel was protected by several Turkish navy frigates. The vessel was to scan the underwater to discover oil and gas. This sparked a number of threats between Greece and Turkey. Some feared that a mistake would potentially lead to war. Read more about Greek-Turkish tension in these links:

Recently, Greece started to carry out military drills in the Eastern Mediterranean with allies in an attempt to warn Turkey. In response, Turkey carried out its own naval military drills. Turkey moved forward with its plan to discover oil, pushing Greece to buy more fighter jets and frigates from its ally, France. President Macron announced that he stood with Greece and sent a number of warships to the East Mediterranean. France is already not on good terms with Turkey, over its involvement in Syria and Libya. Germany attempted to de-escalate the situation and encouraged the two countries to find a diplomatic solution. It urged for an end to military exercises by both Greece and Turkey. NATO also intervened in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. It proved useless. Both countries are NATO members.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that ‘There will be planned movements back and forward.’ He said that Oruc Reis did indeed move away from the area, and it returned to the Turkish coast, but he also said that does not mean that Turkey ‘would be giving up on our rights there.’

Turkey and Greece will potentially initiate talks towards a de-escalation, in an attempt to avoid any confrontations. In a period where every country’s economy has shrunk, due to the ongoing COVID-19 virus, a war can only bring misery to both populations, apart from making it far more difficult to combat the virus. There would be no winners, even for those not involved in the war.

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