Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has welcomed a recent move from Turkey towards de-escalation in the region, saying Athens was open to dialogue but not on all things.
Dendias told a television network on Wednesday that there was no agreed-upon procedure through which Greece and Turkey could start a dialogue on energy issues.
The comments came as a response to an announcement by Turkey the previous day, when presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara would suspend research for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean pending talks with Greece.
“Once these negotiations continue, let us look ahead, let us be constructive and let us wait for awhile. The basic principle of our president here is that we are always one step ahead of the negotiations,” Kalin said.
No talks under threats
But Dendias, who spoke on the Greek ERT television network, clarified that while Athens was open to dialogue, no discussion could take place under threats.
The Greek foreign minister appeaed to be rejecting at least partially a call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “talk without preconditions,” with Dendias maintaining that a discussion could not be about everything.
“There is only one dispute with Turkey, the continental shelf and overlying maritime zones,” Dendias said.
'There is only one dispute with Turkey, the continental shelf and overlying maritime zones,' Dendias said
Erdogan has issued a call for talks without any preconditions, with Ankara signaling readiness to discuss a host of issues in the Mediterranean,
Additional reports said Ankara was seeking an all-encompassing discussion with Athens on issues surrounding the countries’ continental shelves, air space, and offshore hydrocarbon exploration, saying cooperation in the region was a fair goal.
But last week, Turkey announced plans to dispatch a research vessel to conduct seismic activities in waters south of the Greek islands of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kastelorizo, while no agreement has been reached between the two countries.
Greece responded with immediate action including putting the Hellenic Navy on high alert, saying it would do “whatever necessary” to protect its sovereign rights.
The situation de-escalated after Erdogan called off the maritime research mission in waters including parts claimed by Greece or the Republic of Cyprus, with reports suggesting de-escalating tensions were the result of behind-the-scenes diplomatic talks between Germany, Greece, and Turkey.