image Photo: Reuters

Greece: Turkey must end “provocations”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reiterated his will to negotiate with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to resolve the two countries’ maritime dispute over the East Mediterranean Sea.

“From the many over-the-top statements of President Erdoğan, I will retain only one,” said Mitsotakis, “The one where he talks about dialogue. And I respond to this with six clear words: stop the provocations, and the dialogue will start.”

The Greek leader added that his nation “both can and wants to discuss the demarcation of maritime zones in the Aegean and in the eastern Mediterranean based on international law – but without being blackmailed and without the logic of being provoked. Let the threats go for the talks to begin.”

Mitsotakis delivered his statements during a meeting with visiting top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi, who revealed that Beijing is “closely following the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean.”

“We believe the involved parties should solve their differences through dialogue and to avoid actions that could escalate the situation,” said Jiechi, who is China’s Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced over the weekend the launch of talks between Ankara and Athens on the establishment of a mechanism for military deconfliction. “Following my discussions with both Greek and Turkish leaders, the two allies have met already for technical talks here at NATO,” said the top NATO Chief. He explained that “the aim of these talks is to establish mechanisms for military deconfliction to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean,” but noted that “no agreement on the mechanism has been reached yet.”

The deconfliction talks commenced today. They are being conducted on a military rather than political level, as neither of the sides appears willing to compromise on their own national security and economic interests.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also touched base on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, where tensions between Turkey and Greece are increasingly threatening the stability of the region.

After revealing that U.S. President Donald Trump has been holding “conversations” with both Erdoğan and Mitsotakis, Pompeo stressed that “we are urging everyone to stand down, to reduce tensions, and begin to have diplomatic discussions about the conflicts that exist there in the Eastern Mediterranean – the security conflicts, the energy resource conflicts, the maritime conflicts.”

Echoing the need for Greek-Turkish dialogue, the top U.S. diplomat said “They need to sit down and have conversations about this and resolve this diplomatically,” while stressing that “it is not useful to increase military tension in the region” because “only negative things can flow from that.”