Turkey withdrew its seismic research vessel, the Oruc Reis, from the contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, where tensions triggered by the ship’s activities have run high for more than a month. The move came as a surprise for many, and observers wonder whether the move is just a tactical pause.
The move closely followed a showdown between the two NATO allies. On Sept. 13 Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou visited the island of Kastellorizo, or Meis in Turkish, a Greek island with about 500 inhabitants only a mile off Turkey's coast and some 355 miles (570 kilometers) from the Greek mainland. The Turkish side interpreted the visit as a provocation amid the dangerous escalation in the eastern Mediterranean. In response, Turkey's defense minister and the top military brass traveled to the coastal town of Kas, just across the water from the Greek island.