This file photo, taken in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 23, 2019, shows the Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis docked at Haydarpasa Port. (By AFP)
Germany has urged Turkey to refrain from "provocation" in the Eastern Mediterranean, following Ankaraís decision to send a seismic research ship back to disputed waters with Greece.
"Ankara must end the interplay between détente and provocation if the government is interested in talks, as it has repeatedly affirmed," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Berlin on Tuesday ahead of his flight to Greece and Cyprus, which is also involved in a similar dispute with Turkey.
He called on Turkey to remain open to talks and not to resume gas exploration in the region.
"If there should indeed be renewed Turkish gas exploration in the more controversial sea areas in the eastern Mediterranean, this would be a serious setback for efforts to de-escalate," Maas said.
The dispute between Turkey and Greece - both of them NATO members - over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean rose after the Turkish navy announced late on Sunday that a seismic research vessel named Oruc Reis would be redeployed to contested waters to prospect for oil and gas.
Turkey had withdrawn the ship earlier both for maintenance and as a gesture toward reconciliation. The vessel set sail again on Monday even though the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers had agreed in a meeting last week to resolve the dispute through negotiations.
Greece vowed on Monday to push for European Union (EU) sanctions against Ankara.
The Oruc Reis was first dispatched to survey an area between Cyprus and Greeceís Crete Island in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in August. No rapprochement was effected during its short withdrawal, despite mediation by Germany.
The EU has sided with members Greece and Cyprus and threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey, which has been hoping to accede to the bloc for years.