Ankara extends exploration work in eastern Mediterranean

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Turkish exploration vessel Oruc Reis will continue to carry out seismic surveys in a contested area of the eastern Mediterranean until Sept. 12, the Turkish navy said on Monday.

The announcement prompted an angry response from neighboring Greece, which disagrees with Turkey over claims to hydrocarbon resources in the area. The dispute stems from conflicting views on the extent of the countries’ continental shelves in waters dotted with mostly Greek islands.

Both sides have held military drills in the east Mediterranean, highlighting the dispute’s potential to escalate.

Greece’s foreign ministry called the decision illegal.

A ministry statement called on Turkey to ease tensions and work for stability in the region.

“Turkey continues to ignore calls for dialogue and to escalate its provocations,” the ministry statement read. “Greece won’t be blackmailed.”

The European Union has also urged Turkey to stop the exploration and threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara if it refuses to resolve the dispute through talks.

“We will never give in to piracy or banditry in the Mediterranean and the Aegean,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement.

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