AGI – Turkey and Greece will start “exploratory talks” on the differences in the eastern Mediterranean, the first since 2016 between the two NATO allies: the announcement came from the Turkish presidency after a video conference between the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the German chancellor , Angela Merkel, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. Participants stated that “Turkey and Greece are ready to start exploratory talks” on the eastern Mediterranean where the two countries duel over areas potentially rich in natural gas. The confirmation came from the Hellenic Foreign Ministry: “Greece and Turkey have decided to hold exploratory talks in Istanbul soon”, reads a statement.
Erdogan and “sincere dialogue”
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called for a “sincere dialogue” to resolve the dispute between Turkey, Greece and the European Union in the Mediterranean, and has rejected any “aggression” against his country. “Our priority is to resolve conflicts through sincere dialogue, based on international law and on an equitable basis,” said the Turkish head of state in his speech to the UN General Assembly via videoconference. “However, I want to make it clear that we will never tolerate any diktat, aggression or attack,” he added.
Tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean
Erdogan’s statements come as Athens and Ankara collide over areas of the eastern Mediterranean potentially rich in natural gas. The tension had intensified at the end of August, when the two countries had carried out rival military maneuvers. But the recent return to port of a Turkish research ship deployed in the eastern Mediterranean has fueled hopes for peace.
The two countries have therefore agreed to start exploratory talks on their differences, according to the Turkish presidency. French President Emmanuel Macron, Greece’s main ally in the crisis, and Erdogan are scheduled to have a telephone conversation to discuss the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
The idea of a regional conference
The Turkish president also proposed organizing a regional conference to discuss “the rights and interests” of the countries bordering the eastern Mediterranean, including the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. For the Turkish head of state, “the unilateral initiatives of Greece and Greek Cypriots” are at the origin of the crisis in the area.
In his speech, Erdogan also criticized, without naming them, the countries that announced “their intention to open embassies in Jerusalem, in violation of United Nations resolutions and international law”. For the Turkish president, only the creation of an “independent and sovereign Palestinian state” with East Jerusalem as its capital can resolve the conflict. “Seeking solutions other than this will be pointless, one-sided and unfair,” he said. French President Emmanuel Macron, Greece’s main ally in the crisis, and Erdogan are scheduled to have a telephone conversation to discuss tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.