Athena: We are ready to talk to Turkey, but the provocations must stop

Greece has stated that it is ready to start a dialogue with Turkey after weeks of growing tensions over natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean and maritime borders, but only if Turkey stops its provocative behavior.

The war of words escalated between the two member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), with each claiming its right to explore for gas in the same part of the eastern Mediterranean.

The confrontation between Ankara and Athens intensified with Turkey sending ships to explore the disputed water areas. European Union countries have also sent ships to the region to help Greece support its demands. Turkey and Greece are holding military exercises in the region, with the participation of frigates and combat aircraft.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday that his demands could easily be summed up: "There are only five words; provocative actions stop, talks begin."

Mitsotakis added that he is not concerned about Erdogan's previous statements, but he is interested in knowing whether Turkey is ready to enter talks.

Germany tried to negotiate an armistice, and the latest attempt in this context was yesterday evening, Thursday, in a video-conference meeting between Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But without tangible results.

NATO also tried to intervene, although Athens doubted whether yesterday's talks could be considered official.

The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg confirmed today that Turkey and Greece are already conducting technical talks with the aim of avoiding an escalation of military tensions between the two sides in the eastern Mediterranean, despite Athens denying its willingness to enter into a dialogue.

"After my discussions with all the Greek and Turkish leaders, the two allies (NATO) have already met for technical talks here at NATO headquarters," Stoltenberg said.

He stressed that "these are technical talks and not negotiations on the basic differences between Greece and Turkey."

Stoltenberg explained that no agreement had been reached on a possible mechanism to reduce the chances of "incidents and accidents" occurring in the eastern Mediterranean.

For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that "Greece has shown once again that it does not support dialogue," accusing Athens of "lying" about the mediation role played by NATO.

Ihsanoglu added that the Secretary-General of NATO held consultations with the two countries, which had agreed to hold technical talks before Stoltenberg announced them.

In a related context, European Council President Charles Michel said that he had proposed the idea of ​​convening a multilateral conference to help reduce tension in the eastern Mediterranean region regarding Ankara's gas exploration activities.

Michel said in an interview that he had raised the idea of ​​holding the conference to Turkey and other partners.

Michel said that he will visit the member states of the European Union (Greece, Cyprus and Malta) to discuss the matter before the European Union summit scheduled for the period from 24 to 25 September.

The issue of the eastern Mediterranean is expected to top the agenda of the summit.

Michel stressed, "We do not accept Turkey's unilateral actions, which do not comply with international law," noting that he does not support "the carrot and stick approach."


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