Tensions between Greece and Turkey over maritime boundaries within the Eastern Mediterranean are reignited as political leaders of both countries traded insults amid efforts by NATO to foster dialogue.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday his country would only start talks with Turkey to resolve conflicting claims once Turkish “provocations” ceased.
The war of words escalated last month after Turkey dispatched a seismic survey vessel to a disputed area for energy exploration following a maritime deal between Greece and Egypt. Turkey says the pact infringes on its own ocean floor .
“[Our country] can and needs to debate the demarcation of maritime zones within the Aegean , within the Eastern Mediterranean, supported law of nations . But not under threats,” Mitsotakis said during a gathering with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who is visiting Athens.
“Once the provocations end, discussions will begin,” he said, adding that Greece’s secretary of state would deliver a letter from him outlining Athens’ case to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when the 2 meet in ny on Friday.
Also on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Greece and Turkey, both members of the Western alliance, had begun technical talks, but that they had yet to agree on a deal to avoid accidental clashes within the Eastern Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, Turkey on Friday accused Greece of shunning the dialogue and lying by denying it had signed up to NATO-brokered talks.
A Greek frigate collided with a Turkish one in August and therefore the two NATO members staged rival war games within the energy-rich but disputed region last week.
Stoltenberg has said Greek and Turkish leaders “agreed to enter into technical talks at NATO to determine mechanisms for military deconfliction to scale back the danger of incidents and accidents”.
But Greece said afterward Thursday that Athens never agreed to the technical talks, claiming Stoltenberg’s statement didn’t “correspond to reality”.
Turkish secretary of state Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greece did, in fact, comply with the proposal when it had been made.
“Greece denied the Secretary General ‘s (remarks) but the one lying here isn’t the NATO secretary general, it’s Greece itself,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
“Greece showed another time than it isn’t in favour of dialogue.”