Turkish vessel sails to Cyprus

The Turkish oil exploration vessel Piri Reis left the port of Izmir on Friday to conduct seismic surveys off the northern coast of Cyprus, but there was no sign of warship escorts despite earlier warnings by Ankara.

Turkish media had reported earlier that three Turkish submarines had left Turkey?s Marmara port and were headed toward Cyprus. But Greek defense officials rebuffed the reports, noting that only one Turkish submarine had been detected in the area, participating in a scheduled naval exercise.

Tensions peaked earlier this week after Nicosia announced that drilling had begun in an offshore area adjoining a gas field off Israel.

Commenting on Friday about a continental-shelf accord signed between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the leader of the Turkish-occupied north, Dervis Eroglu, ostensibly allowing Turkish Cypriots to drill in waters surrounding the island, Greek Foreign Ministry sources spoke of ?contradictory behavior,? noting that Ankara had first slammed Nicosia for signing a deal to drill for oil and gas off its coastline and then proceeded to sign a similar pact itself.