Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday Greece would start talks with Turkey to resolve conflicting claims over maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean once Turkish “provocations” ceased.
Tensions 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 continental shelf.
“(Our country) can and wants to discuss the demarcation of maritimes zones in the Aegean Sea, in the eastern Mediterranean, based on international law. But not under threats,” Mitsotakis said during a meeting with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi who is visiting Athens. “Let the threats go for talks to begin.
“Once the provocations end discussions will begin,” he said, adding that Greece’s foreign minister would deliver a letter from him outlining Athens’ case to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when the two meet in New York on Friday.
Mitsotakis spoke a day after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Greece and Turkey, both members of the Western alliance, had agreed to talks to avoid accidental clashes in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey said it supported NATO’s initiative and that the talks were not about solving bilateral problems but about measures so far handled by the two countries’ militaries. It added that it expected Greece to do the same.
Commenting on NATO’s announcement on Thursday, Greek diplomats said a condition for dialogue was that Turkey de-escalated its activity in the region.