Turkey extends east Med survey, Greece calls it an 'illegal move'

The row erupted in August when Turkey sent the Oruc Reis into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus

  

ISTANBUL/ATHENS- Turkey said it was extending the seismic survey work of its Oruc Reis ship in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 4, and Greece responded on Sunday by vowing to lodge a complaint at what it called an "illegal move".

NATO members Turkey and Greece are locked in a dispute over the extent of their continental shelves and conflicting claims to hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

The row erupted in August when Turkey sent the Oruc Reis into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus, both European Union member states.

Along with two other ships, the Ataman and Cengiz Han, the Oruc Reis will continue work in a location south of the Greek island of Rhodes until Nov. 4, according to a Turkish naval maritime notice issued late on Saturday.

A previous notice scheduled survey work in the area until Oct. 27.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said it would file a complaint with the Turkish side following the new advisory, which Athens said was in an area within the Greek continental shelf.

It added that the extension of the Oruc Reis's survey was an "illegal move" at odds with efforts to ease tensions and with recent conclusions of the council of EU heads of government.

"Greece blatantly condemns this unacceptable behaviour, which is essentially moving even further away from the prospect of a constructive dialogue," the ministry said in a statement, calling for the advisory to be revoked immediately.

It said Turkey was behaving "like a pariah", seeking to destabilise the region and stoke tensions, defying international law.

Ankara withdrew Oruc Reis last month to allow for diplomacy before an EU summit, where Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey. It was sent back this month, prompting an angry reaction from Greece, France and Germany.

After the summit, the 27-nation EU said it would punish Turkey if it continued its operations in the region, a message Ankara said further strained Turkey-EU relations. Turkey says its operations are within its continental shelf.

(Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou in Athens; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Mark Heinrich) ((daren.butler@tr.com; +90-212-350 7053; Reuters Messaging: daren.butler.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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