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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey suspends energy search off Greek island 'for a while'

Turkey's vessel planned to search for hydrocarbons "180 kilometres from the island of Meis" [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 July, 2020

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Greece has reportedly welcomed Ankara's decision.

Turkey said Tuesday it had agreed to suspend "for a while" a search for oil and gas off a Greek island which had stoked tensions over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greece's navy last week said it had deployed ships in the Aegean in "heightened readiness" after Turkey announced plans for a survey near the island - an area Ankara claims is on its continental shelf.

Turkey's "Oruc Reis" vessel planned to search for hydrocarbons "180 kilometres (110 miles) from the island of Meis (Kastellorizo in Greek)", presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told private broadcaster CNN-Turk.

"Despite this our president said while the negotiations are continuing, let's be constructive and hold (the energy search) for a while," he said.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron called for Turkey to be "sanctioned" and accused Ankara of treading on the rights of Greece and Cyprus, as all three nations scramble to exploit recently discovered gas reserves.

Read more: Macron denounces Turkey's 'violations' of Greek, Cypriot sovereignty

Kalin on Tuesday said Greece was an "important neighbour" to Turkey and added: "We are ready to discuss (all disputes) with Greece without any conditions."

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias welcomed Ankara's decision.

"I salute Ankara's decision, this is a positive development to de-escalate the tensions," he told reporters during a visit to Athens by Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, who was in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials on Monday.

"Greece is always ready for dialogue but not under a regime of threats," Dendias added. 

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