image Photo: Reuters

Turkey sends mixed signals on EastMed

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent mixed signals about his intentions vis-à-vis the Eastern Mediterranean – amid heightened tensions with the European Union.

After both his Defense and Foreign Ministers asserted that Turkey’s withdrawal of its seismic survey vessel from disputed waters for the sole purpose of scheduled maintenance, President Erdoğan asserted that it also aimed at giving diplomacy a chance. “You know where Oruç Reis (seismic ship) is now. Pulling back Oruç Reis to a port for maintenance has a meaning. It is a meaningful approach, why we pulled that ship back, to give a chance to diplomacy, to show a positive attitude towards diplomacy,” he said.

Immediately after President Erdoğan’s mention of Ankara’s diplomatic overture, he emphasized that once maintenance concludes, the Oruç Reis will resume its exploration activities in disputed waters.

Separately, the Turkish head of state voiced his frustration over the news related to Libya’s Turkish-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who announced in a televised statement his intention to resign by the end of next month.

“That kind of a development, hearing a news like that of course upset us. As you remember, in a place like Libya, in Tripoli, with our intervention there, Sarraj and his team was rescued from the approach, invasion of putschist (Khalifa) Haftar,” he said.

It is important to note that Sarraj’s departure from office is expected to trigger infighting among rival tribes and factions that back Libya’s Tripoli-based government – consequently threatening the maritime accord that the Tripoli government signed with Ankara, which in effect initiated the tensions between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean.