Turkey Extends Exploration of Eastern Mediterranean, Stirs Tensions with France |

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ANKARA, TURKEY – Turkey announced on Saturday evening that it was extending a gas exploration mission in the eastern Mediterranean by a week that has caused tensions with Greece.In a new notice to shipping in the region, Turkey said the seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis, along with two support vessels, would operate in the area south of the Greek island of Rhodes until November 4. operate in the region until Tuesday, October 27.

Ankara sent Oruc Reis with several warships in August into waters also claimed by Greece and Cyprus, sparking a dispute that threatened a military confrontation between NATO allies. The mission was condemned by the European Union.

The ship was pulled for maintenance earlier this month due to the search for a diplomatic solution, but was later redeployed to the region with two support supply ships.

In the past, Turkey has sent exploration missions for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims to be its own.

In another development, France gave Turkey two months to change its policy in the East Med region.

A French Elysee official told AFP that Erdogan had two months to respond to requests for a change of position and that he was ending his “dangerous adventures” in the Eastern Mediterranean and his “irresponsible behavior” in the Karabakh where Ankara strongly supports Baku.

“Measures must be taken by the end of the year,” the official said.

On Saturday, France said it was recalling its envoy to Turkey for consultations after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “unacceptable” comments questioning the mental health of his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

France and its NATO ally disagree on a range of issues, including maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya, Syria and more recently the escalating conflict between Armenia and the United States. Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh.

But Ankara has now launched a campaign against Macron after the measures and positions he has taken against Islamists following the murder this month of a teacher who showed his class a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

“President Erdogan’s comments are unacceptable. Excess and rudeness is not a method. We demand that Erdogan change the course of his policy because it is dangerous in all respects, ”a French presidential official told AFP.

In a very unusual gesture, the official added that the French ambassador to Turkey was being recalled for consultations and would meet with Macron to discuss the situation.

The Elysée official, who asked not to be named, also said that France had noted “the absence of messages of condolence and support” from the Turkish president after the beheading of Professor Samuel Paty in outside of Paris.

Erdogan earlier criticized Macron for his policies towards French Islamists, saying “Macron needs mental treatment”.

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