Turkey will send its fourth ship to the Eastern Mediterranean region to continue its exploration and drilling, the country’s energy and natural resources minister said on Tuesday.
“The MTA Oruc Reis seismic research ship, which has been conducting seismic surveys in the Black Sea and Marmara since August 2017, will be sent to conduct seismic surveys in the Mediterranean Sea,” Fatih Donmez said in a Twitter post.
Donmez said Turkey has the capability to search, produce and transmit resources in the region to international markets.
Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the area.
Since spring this year, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels — Fatih and most recently Yavuz — to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) to the resources of the region.
Turkey’s first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Pasa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been conducting exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Athens and Greek Cypriots have opposed the move, threatening to arrest the ships’ crews and enlisting EU leaders to join their criticism.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries — Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. — ended in 2017 in Switzerland.