Saturday, 27 February, 2021


Turkey says France's Macron 'hysterical' over Syria, Libya, East Mediterranean

The then Turkish Foreign Minister and chairman of the Justice and Development Party Ahmet Davutoglu Athens & Ankara agree to talks, Stoltenberg says, amid maritime tensions between NATO allies
Bennie Garza | 05 September, 2020, 11:23

Turkey on August 10 deployed the Oruc Reis research vessel and an escorting flotilla of warships to the disputed waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete, and has since prolonged the mission three times.

No agreement has been reached from the military-level talks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

"That could be the best way to de-escalate in the region and offer a channel for dialogue", he said, adding he had already floated the idea with Athens and Ankara.

Earlier on Thursday, Stoltenberg said Greek and Turkish leaders "agreed to enter into technical talks at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to establish mechanisms for military de-confliction to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents".

Davutoglu, who served as Erdogan's foreign minister from 2009 to 2014 and then as prime minister for two subsequent years, worked to strengthen Turkish ties and influence in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

NATO's chief said Thursday that alliance members Greece and Turkey have agreed to start "technical talks" to reduce the risks of military "incidents and accidents" in the eastern Mediterranean, where the two are locked in a tense standoff over offshore energy rights. "Right after that, he said our ships had harassed their ships in the eastern Mediterranean but couldn't document this and was humiliated".

"I want to reiterate is what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in its announcements yesterday: that Greece is not negotiating with Turkey".

Stoltenberg announced the possible diplomatic opening on NATO's website Thursday, the same day Turkey announced that Russian Federation plans live-fire naval exercises this month in the eastern Mediterranean. Further complicating matters is that Turkey is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but not of the European Union. Greek and Turkish armed forces held their own exercises in the same area last month.

Greece and Turkey almost went to war 25 years ago in a dispute over uninhabited Aegean islets.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks to press members in Ankara, Turkey on September 4, 2020.

Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias briefed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Turkey's provocations against peace and regional stability in the eastern Mediterranean, during a meeting in NY on Friday.

Ankara has long sought an upgrade of its customs union with the EU, a process that has stalled over President Tayyip Erdogan's sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that underpinned widespread jailings of opponents following an abortive 2016 military coup.

Speaking with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Athens, Mitsotakis said Greece faces aggression from Turkey and "actions that dispute every rule of the United Nations charter, with a rhetoric that distorts history and changes geography, undermining legality and with actions that are endangering security in the entire Mediterranean".

"Greece denied the secretary general's (remarks) but the one lying here is not the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general, it's Greece itself", Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.

Tensions are running high over Turkey's drilling activities, which Greece and Cyprus say violate their sovereignty, and both sides have deployed warships in a show of force, raising fears of conflict erupting by accident.

Russian Federation maintains a sizeable naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean and regularly conducts naval manoeuvres there.

The two leaders agreed on a "need to reduce regional tensions", Merkel's spokesman said.

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