Greece signals readiness for talks with Turkey

Greece signals readiness for talks with Turkey
# 12 January 2021 07:10 (UTC +04:00)

Greece will take part in new exploratory talks with Turkey once the date is finalized, said the nation’s prime minister on Monday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

Speaking at a press conference in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece is waiting for an invitation from Turkey.

“The procedure is simple,” he told a joint press conference with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

“After the intention is made, the officials of the foreign ministries of the two countries come together to set a date. This has not happened yet, but it is positive that Turkey expressed a desire to begin the process.”

Costa, whose country now holds the EU’s rotating presidency, expressed his desire to build fruitful relations during Portugal’s term, which lasts through the end of June.

“Turkey is a NATO ally and a very important neighbor to the EU. A large Turkish community also lives in the EU. We will try to get the relationships back to normal as soon as possible,” said Costa.

On Monday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu invited Greece for exploratory talks, with the first meeting scheduled for later this month.

The 60th round, the last of the exploratory talks initiated between the two countries in 2002, was held in Athens in March 2016. Afterward, bilateral negotiations continued in the form of political consultations but did not return to an exploratory framework.

The issue of energy rights and maritime boundaries are certain to loom large in any Turkish-Greek talks.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara last year sent several drillships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.