Turkey’s seismic research vessel Oruc Reis left port early Monday after the country issued a 10-day Navtex alert for the Eastern Mediterranean.
On Twitter, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said the ship’s maintenance at the port of Antalya was concluded and it would carry out exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.
'We will continue research, drilling, and protecting our rights,' Donmez said, adding that Turkey is determined to find natural resources in the region, if there were any.
On Twitter, Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said that Turkey will continue planned activities within its maritime jurisdiction, stressing its commitment to finding diplomatic solutions to disputes in the region.
“Our message is clear: We remain committed to a diplomatic solution and encourage all parties, including Greece, to support Turkey’s diplomatic initiatives. But there can be no negotiations if you say ‘what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable’,” he wrote.
Navtex is a maritime communications system that allows ships to inform other vessels about their presence in an area, as well as other information.
The Oruc Reis is capable of doing geological, geophysical, hydrographic, and oceanographic surveys.
It also stands as one of the world’s top research ships, holding two-dimensional seismic operations at depths of up to 15,000 meters (50,000 feet) and do two- and three-dimensional seismic, gravity, and magnetic geophysical research.
In August, Turkey resumed energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a controversial maritime delimitation deal, spurning Turkey's goodwill gesture in halting its search.
Declaring the Greek-Egyptian deal 'null and void', Turkey authorized the Oruc Reis to continue its activities in an area within Turkey's continental shelf.
Turkey has consistently opposed Greece's efforts to declare an exclusive economic zone based on small islands near Turkish shores, violating the interests of Turkey, the country with the longest coastline in the Mediterranean.
Ankara has also said energy resources near the island of Cyprus must be shared fairly between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus.
Reporting by Ahmet Gencturk
Writing by Ali Murat Alhas