Amid the ongoing tensions between Turkey and Greece, both countries have signalled their willingness to start talks in the hope of resolving the dispute over the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The two nations have been locked in a standoff for weeks now as Turkish vessels continue to survey for gas in waters where Greek and Cyprus authorities have claimed exclusive economic rights. Moreover, Turkey and Greece's armed forces have been conducting military exercises in the area in a show of muscle-flexing to underscore each side’s resolve.
As per reports, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the return of a Turkish survey ship to port from a disputed maritime area on Sunday, September 13. He said Greece is ready to start talks which are long due, hinting at the possibility of a mutually negotiated deal.
European Union members Greece and Cyprus have accused Turkey of violating international law and of “gunboat diplomacy”. On the other hand, Turkey has insisted that it’s defending its rights and those of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots on ethnically split island to their rightful share of the area’s potential gas deposits.
Meanwhile, Greece has called upon the European Union to "show its teeth" and impose tough economic sanctions against Turkey, if the country refuses to remove its military vessels and drillships from waters in the eastern Mediterranean.
In a statement to the local press, Mitsotakis said, “This is a positive first step. If we see signs of deescalation in practice ... I will be the first to sit at the negotiating table”. He added, “In areas where there is no maritime delimitation, there can be no unilateral actions, and that has what Turkey has been doing in recent weeks”.
On the other hand, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey supports peace and dialogue “if our wishes and demands are fulfilled”.
NATO has also intervened in the ongoing conflict with the aim of starting talks between the two countries’ militaries to prevent a potential conflict. Reports suggest that Turkey has also been going through immense international pressure. However, it argues that the Greek islands which are close to its coastline should not extend maritime zones for oil and gas resources.