Turkey says maritime talks with Greece to resume on January 25

NATO military alliance members at odds about limits of their continental shelves, energy rights, air space and status of some islands.

Turkish and Greek warships collided in August while shadowing Turkey's Oruc Reis vessel [File: Reuters]
Turkish and Greek warships collided in August while shadowing Turkey's Oruc Reis vessel [File: Reuters]

Turkey and Greece will resume the suspended exploratory talks about territorial claims in the Mediterranean Sea and other issues on January 25 in Istanbul, Turkey’s foreign ministry said.

Plans for talks last year foundered after disagreement about a Turkish seismic exploration vessel deployed to disputed waters. The ship has since returned.

Ankara and Athens both said earlier on Monday that they were willing to resume the exploratory talks, which were suspended in 2016 after 60 rounds in 14 years.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his government would attend the talks.

“We seek a fertile and productive relationship with Turkey,” he told reporters in Lisbon, saying officials would have to be in contact formally. “It’s probably about time we stopped chit-chatting and sat down and agreed on a date.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is likely to address the dispute and the new mediation efforts when he meets EU ambassadors in Ankara on Tuesday. He is also due to visit Brussels on January 21.

Disputed issues

The two NATO military alliance members are at odds about the limits of their continental shelves, energy rights, air space and the status of some islands.

Their dispute threatened to spill into open conflict when Turkish and Greek warships collided in August while shadowing Turkey’s Oruc Reis vessel as it surveyed for oil and gas in the waters in west of Cyprus.

European Union candidate Turkey claims gas resources in the Mediterranean that are also contested by Greece and Cyprus – a dispute that has fanned territorial disputes about maritime boundaries.

Turkey rejects the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, saying Ankara is in favour of resolving all issues through international law.

The EU has threatened Ankara with sanctions, including ones on arms exports, various times since August.

Turkey and Greece also staged rival military exercises with regional partners.

In December, EU leaders decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions because of Ankara’s “unilateral actions and provocations” in the disputed waters near Cyprus and Greece.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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