Greece-Turkey Wrangling Both : Countries Agree Resumption of Talks
After weeks of diplomatic wrangling that saw the deployment of heavy weapons, both countries have agreed to privilege dialogue.
Turkey and Greece have agreed to resume talks over disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean. The announcement was made on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 by both sides, following a successful diplomatic mediation by German.
A standoff over gas exploration in contested waters has seen the two neighbors’ stage rival war games and ramp up their rhetoric, but the tone has softened this week, raising hopes for a diplomatic solution. The latest flare-up began in August when Turkey sent a research vessel accompanied by warships to disputed waters near a Greek island, and prolonged the mission three times despite repeated calls from the European Union and Greece to stop.
But both sides said on Tuesday they were “ready to start exploratory talks” as a three-way videoconference between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council chief Charles Michel took place, the Turkish presidency said. The Greek foreign ministry also confirmed the talks, saying they would be held soon in Istanbul, without providing any precise date.
In 2016 Greece and Turkey held talks on continental shelf disputes following Ankara’s claim that it has the largest coastline of all the eastern Mediterranean nations but a disproportionately small share of the sea because of Greece’s far-flung islands some of them within sight of Turkey’s shore. But Athens argues that its claims are grounded in international law and past agreements signed by Ankara.
Though President Erdogan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have traded barbs for weeks over the issue with Turkey accusing the French leader of arrogance and despair after he called for a tough EU stance, both men had a fruitful telephone conversation on Tuesday. During the conversation, President Macron told his counterpart to avoid taking any action likely to raise tension and to “engage without ambiguity in the construction of an area of peace and cooperation in the Mediterranean”. While the Turkish leader Erdogan told Macron he expected “common sense and a constructive attitude” from France, claiming that he supports dialogue and cooperation to solve problems.