Germany on Tuesday welcomed the commencement of talks between Greece and Turkey, who have been at loggerheads for the past several months over the mining rights in the Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus border issue. German Foreign Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Germany sees itself playing a "mediating role" in the conflict as she urged all parties to avoid any further escalation. Karrenbauer also held talks with Greek and Cypriot counterparts after meeting the Turkish foreign minister in Berlin on Tuesday.
Karrenbauer said the important thing is that dialogue has reopened again as she hoped a conclusion could be reached in the coming months. The conflict in the region reignited last year after Turkey sent a research vessel escorted by warships in the Mediterranean Sea to look for energy resources. The area is disputed as it is claimed by both Greece and Turkey. The European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States have imposed sanctions on Turkey, which Ankara sees as taking Athens' side in the ongoing conflict.
The recent talks come after a five-year hiatus following negotiations that began in 2002 and lasted until 2016. Last year, Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan called for a "two-state solution", saying federation could no longer be a valid model for a solution. Erdogan also visited the Turkish-Cypriot side last year, garnering criticism from the internationally recognised government in the south. However, Erdogan has welcomed the recent commencement of talks, saying it's a "signal of a new era".
Ankara-Athens relations suffered a major blow in the 1970s after Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus following the nationalist movement on the island demanding unification with Greece, which the Turkish-Cypriots were opposing. Turkey invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, days after a group of Greek Cypriot nationalists staged a failed coup against the then Cypriot President backed by the Greek military junta in Athens. After the invasion, Turkey expelled Greek Cypriots from the part of the island it had occupied.
(Image Credit: AP)