“The recent withdrawal of the Oruc Reis seismic research vessel is an important step in paving the way for a meaningful dialogue between Greece and Turkey. The EU calls for a similar decision on Cyprus,” European Foreign Ministry spokesman Josep said. Borrell.

The continuation of the Yavuz drilling vessel’s mission “will fuel tensions and insecurity in the Eastern Mediterranean at a time when immediate easing and the resumption of dialogue and negotiations are possible, the only way to lasting solutions,” said spokesman Peter Stano. .

The crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean is on the agenda of the European summit on September 24 and 25 in Brussels, where possible sanctions against Turkey will be discussed.

“We must stand firm when it comes to defending the rights of all EU member states, including Cyprus,” European Council President Charles Michel said on Wednesday after a meeting in Nicosia with President Nicos Anastasiades.

Turkey claims the right to exploit hydrocarbon deposits in maritime areas under the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus, an island divided after the Turkish army invaded its northern third in 1974.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a video conference that Turkey will defend its interests in the Mediterranean.

In a video conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country acts as an intermediary between Turkey and Greece, Erdogan said that “disagreements in the Eastern Mediterranean” can be resolved through negotiations, provided they are carried out with a constructive approach. based on equity, according to the Turkish presidency.

Erdogan said his country “will continue to implement a determined and active policy to defend its rights” in the sector, according to the same source.

Turkey and Greece are vying for areas in the eastern Mediterranean that are potentially rich in natural gas. Tensions worsened in late August, when the two countries carried out rival military maneuvers.

The crisis is on the agenda of the EU summit on September 24 and 25 in Brussels. Greece is supported in this crisis by several European countries, including France.

Ankara announced on Monday that the return to port on Sunday of one of the prospecting ships sent to the Eastern Mediterranean, Oruc Reis, at the center of tensions with Greece, was motivated by routine maintenance and is not a step backwards.

Turkey has extended the search for another Turkish ship, Yavuz, off the coast of Cyprus until October 12, despite international protests.