Next week, Greece and Turkey plan to negotiate their territorial conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean for the first time since 2016. Shortly before that, Foreign Minister Maas will travel to Ankara to show how important these talks are for Germany and the EU.
Berlin (dpa) – Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas hopes for lasting relaxation in the natural gas dispute between Greece and Turkey.
The resumption of talks between the two countries in the coming week would offer a “real opportunity,” Maas said on a brief visit to Ankara. “The positive momentum of recent weeks must be sustained to restore lost confidence and lay the foundation for a solution-oriented dialogue.”
Greece and Turkey have long argued over territorial claims in the Eastern Mediterranean. Last year, however, the conflict almost escalated. Greece accuses Turkey of seeking natural gas in sea areas that can only be exploited by Greece under international maritime law. According to Ankara, these areas belong to the Turkish continental shelf.
On January 25, the two countries plan to resume talks on a solution to the conflict. Germany has been trying to mediate for months. Maas had therefore already traveled to Athens and Ankara in August and emphasized how dangerous the situation was. The fight had turned into a “game with fire,” he said at the time.
“This game with fire should not be repeated,” he said before leaving for Ankara, where he wants to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu. As a NATO partner, Turkey has a clear duty to resolve even difficult disputes through negotiation, in accordance with international law and not to endanger peace in the region, Maas stressed. That is why it is good that Turkey has been sending signals of relaxation since the beginning of the year – not only with words, but also with actions.
Maas praised, among other things, the premature termination of the seismic surveys for Cyprus as a result of the withdrawal of the research vessel “Barbaros”. There is also a conflict over natural gas reserves between Turkey and EU member Cyprus.
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