ATHENS – Following talks between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan aimed at reducing tension with Turkey simultaneously provoking, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has an offer for Greece: share the seas.
After talking with Greek defense chief Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Akar said Turkey favors joint exploitation of “the riches of the Aegean” with Greece, although Erdogan had said he will send Turkish ships to hunt for energy off Greek islands.
“We are holding our talks sincerely, openly, honestly and transparently,” he told journalists after NATO’s Extraordinary Meeting of Defense Ministers, said Kathimerini, the defense alliance refusing to intervene over Turkey sending fighter jets and warships to violate Greek airspace and waters.
“This is important in terms of the prosperity of the people of the two countries and the sharing of the beauties and riches of the Aegean. There are tourism, fishing and many other riches. We are in favor of using these together, we said this,” Akar said.
“We have received a positive response from our interlocutor in this sense. We expect them to move forward in this direction. We are constructive, positive, this is our approach,” he said.
That would mark a 180-degree turn from warning it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its seas boundaries to 12 miles and demands that Greece take troops off islands near Turkey’s long coastline.
Greece’s Defence Ministry said Wednesday the two officials agreed on a fourth round of talks on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and reducing tensions in the region after the first three rounds failed.
It also said the two sides discussed establishing a climate of security, based on the rule of international law and the principles of good neighbour relations, diplomatic boilerplate to avoid saying anything of substance.
Akar stated that they were waiting for the Greek delegation to Ankara for the CBM meeting. “We are constructive towards Greece, we are positive,” he said, ratcheting down his former belligerence, for now.