Changing Tack, Greece Offers Turkey Olive Branch

FILE - Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias.(Photo by Eurokinissi /Stelios Misinas)

Moving more diplomatically, Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis wants to ease tensions with Turkey, which has raised provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean where it is drilling for energy in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ.)

“Prime Minister Mitsotakis has offered an olive branch to Turkey. It is obviously according to the respect for international law and agreements,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told local TV channel SKAI.

He was referring to Mitsotakis’ remarks at a General Assembly meeting last week, in which he said: “I call on (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan for a mutual approach in which we will take brave steps,” to work out a compromise over the Cyprus drilling and scale back violations of Greek airspace and waters by Turkish fighter jets and warships.

Recalling that the two countries have deep-rooted ties, Dendias said Athens would meet Turkey in the current “international context,” is how the Turkish Daily News Hurriyet put it. But for all the nice talk, Dendias he has no plans to meet soon with Turkish Foreign Ministaer Mevlut Cavusoglu whose comments have bordered on the belligerent.

Ignoring warnings from Cyprus, the United States – and Greece – Erdogan said Turkey will forge ahead with the drilling as it doesn’t recognize parts of Cyprus’ EEZ where the legitimate government has licensed foreign companies to drill for oil and gas.

There was worry there could be a military conflict with Erdogan refusing to back down although Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he’s willing to share any potentially lucrative energy revenues with Turkish-Cypriots unlawfully occupying the northern third since a 1974 invasion. But Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they want their side to take part in the licensing, raising tension.