Turkish seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis is seen in the Antalya Harbor after it returned from Mediterranean Sea in Antalya, Turkey 17 September 2020. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Greece, Turkey agree to resume exploratory talks on East Med
By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe
epa08675320 Turkish seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis is seen in the Antalya Harbor after it returned from Mediterranean Sea in Antalya, Turkey 17 September 2020. Turkish exploration vessel Oruc Reis has returned to coastal waters close to Antalya, a Turkish province after spending some time near Greek islands in recent weeks, that had caused considerable tensions between NATO member Greece and Turkey. EPA-EFE/STR
Greece’s Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias has called on the EU to “step up” its response to Turkey’s aggression, citing it is a matter that concerns the EU27 and not just some member states. For Turkey, Athens’ territorial claims are groundless, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Greece of trying to exclude his country from the benefits of the oil and gas findings in the region. Greece and Turkey have agreed to resume exploratory talks in Istanbul in a bid to resolve their disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean, both sides said on Tuesday, following German-led efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region. The latest flare-up began in August when Ankara sent its research vessel Oruc Reis accompanied by warships, to conduct seismic research and drilling operations in part of the Greek continental shelf. EU-Germany-Turkey trilateral talks
The announcement for the resumption of exploratory talks followed a trilateral videoconference earlier in the day with EU Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the council. Their call came ahead of the extraordinary summit on the Eastern Mediterranean, initially scheduled for September 24 and 25, which was postponed to October 1 and 2, as Michel went into quarantine, after possible exposure to Coronavirus. During the talks, the Turkish President also floated the idea that “a regional conference to be held with the participation of all the parties in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the Turkish Cypriots, will yield positive and constructive decisions that will benefit everyone.” “Pointing out that Germany’s mediation efforts are appreciated, President Erdogan said that the steps to be taken by Greece will be important as to how the mutual understanding reached on the revitalisation of exploratory talks and other channels of dialogue will move forward,” reads a statement issued by the Turkish Presidency after the trilateral meeting. Without specifying a date, the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “Greece and Turkey have agreed to hold the 61st round of exploratory talks in Istanbul, in the near future.”
The last round of exploratory talks between the two countries was held in 2016.