Ankara, Turkey – Turkey has not given up on rights in east Mediterranean, says minister Akar.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday that the return of the seismic research vessel Oruc Reis to near the country’s southern shores does not mean Turkey has given up on its rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Speaking to the state-owned Anadolu news agency, Akar said the ship’s return was part of its scheduled operations.

Oruc Reis returned to waters near the southern province of Antalya on Sunday, Refinitiv data showed, a move Greece said was a positive first step in easing tensions over offshore natural resources.

Greece welcomes return of Turkish vessel to base, calls it ‘positive first step’

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday the return of Turkish survey vessel Oruc Reis back to its southern province of Antalya was a positive first step to ease tensions with Turkey over offshore natural resources.

“The return of Oruc Reis is a positive first step, I hope there will be continuity. We want to talk with Turkey but in a climate without provocations,” Mitsotakis told reporters in Thessaloniki.

He said dialogue is the only way to tackle the sole problem between the two countries – the delimitation of maritime zones.

“The first step (by Turkey) will be the prologue of an improving situation in our bilateral relations,” he said.

Mitsotakis also said six of the 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets Greece plans to purchase to beef up its air force will be new and the rest slightly used.

Greece also plans to upgrade four of its frigates and acquire another four, the conservative premier said.