BERLIN, October 17. / TASS /. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that he refused to visit Turkey this week in light of Ankara's actions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
"By sending the research vessel Oruc Reis again earlier this week (for seismic exploration in the Greek offshore area), Turkey has seriously damaged the atmosphere of trust that we have diligently built up before," Maas said Saturday in an interview with editorial group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND). "In this regard, I abstained from the planned visit to Ankara this week," he said.
For several months Greece and Cyprus have been actively demanding from the European Council to impose sanctions against Turkey because of its actions in the Mediterranean Sea. Greece concluded this summer with Italy and Egypt agreements on the delimitation of sea zones, which confirm the right of the Greek islands to the sea shelf and the exclusive economic zone. Ankara said it would not recognize the Greek-Egyptian agreement and sent the research vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by a group of warships for seismic exploration, on the Greek offshore shelf off Kastelorizo. In response, Greece has raised its armed forces on alert and announced that it will defend its sovereign rights.
On September 13, the vessel returned to the Turkish port of Antalya for a scheduled technical inspection, but Turkey said that seismic exploration in the Mediterranean would continue. According to the latest data, on Monday, the Oruc Reis again left the port of Antalya.