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Turkey withdraws Oruc Reis, gets “cold feet” due to Moody’s downgrading, EU sanctions

After 31 days of illegal operation in the Greek continental shelf, Turkish seismic vessel Oruc Reis collected its cables, changed course Saturday afternoon and returned to the port of Antalya late at night. At midnight, the Turkish navigation warning, NAVTEX expired and contrary to the previous expiration, Ankara did not extend it.

The move came 12 days before the EU Summit and as a list of sanction against Turkey is circulating among the member states.

Erdogan-affiliated newspaper Yeni Safak reported that the Oruc Reis survey was suspended “due to negotiations between Turkey and Greece at NATO level.”

Greek government spokesman, Stelios Petsas said “The fact that Turkey did not extend its Navtex is a positive step and as such we are evaluating it and monitoring it. The main issue all this time has been a move of practical de-escalation on the part of Turkey.”

Speaking to Skai TV on Sunday morning, Petsas said Erdogan and Turkey must consider that the European Council was very close to imposing sanctions.”

He warned that “in order to avoid sanctions, this attitude of de-escalation must be consistent and continuous. We expect to see this in the coming days.”

According to state broadcaster ERT TV, the Turkish warships that were accompanying the seismic vessel all the time, may have moved closer to the Turkish coast, however, they have not withdrawn to their naval bases.

There is no official statement on Turkish part, however, in leaks to the press Ankara is awaiting for a step in the direction of de-escalation from Athens.

The Oruc Reis in the area, led to a standoff between the two countries and a war of words, with Greece to have launched a persistent diplomatic campaign to raise awareness of Turkey’s aggressiveness at every possible level incl the EU, the US, the NATO and the UN.
Germany that holds the rotating EU presidency and the NATO mediated to have both countries at the negotiation table for ‘dialogue” and de-escalation of the tension.
Athens insisted that there can be no dialogue with Turkey as long as the Oruc Reis and the accompanying warships of the Turkish Navy were in its continental shelf.
On its part Ankara claimed to start a dialogue with Greece, yet without any preconditions.

Still on Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at France and Greece.

Did he get cold feet in the perspective of EU sanctions against the country whose economy has gone down the hill and the national currency can hardly hold above water?

It must have been something like pure coincidence that Turkey made an U-turn the day that ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Turkey’s credit ability from B2 to B1, five notches below investment grade and maintained a negative outlook on the country. The rate cut puts Turkey on par with Tanzania, Rwanda and Jamaica.

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