ATHENS — Exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey will resume on Monday in Istanbul, after almost five years. Both sides will try to find points of convergence for possible future negotiations regarding the delimitation of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, based on international law.
The Greek side has repeatedly stressed that it will not discuss the demilitarisation of the islands.
Greece will not negotiate any issue that concerns national sovereignty. The country's position is in line with international maritime law. The decision to expand territorial waters is a sovereign right of the country. It has made it clear that it retains in full the right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles anywhere and at any time.
Greece has clearly stated that it is coming to the 61st round of exploratory contacts with confidence, in good faith, a spirit of cooperation, a constructive climate and the hope that the talks will lead to de-escalation and that the Turkish side will come in a similar spirit.
The two delegations will continue the discussions held during the 60th round of exploratory contacts in Athens on March 1, 2016.
Exploratory contacts are neither negotiations nor are they binding, Tarantilis says
"The 61st round of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey began on Monday in Istanbul. These are neither negotiations nor are they binding," government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis said on Monday during a press briefing.
"The goal is to resume contacts from the point where they stopped in 2016. To examine whether there is an area of convergence that could possibly lead to negotiations on the one and only issue that concerns us: that of the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, on the basis of international law," the government spokesperson pointed out.
He underlined: "It is clear, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has emphasised, that [we are not discussing anything that] concerns the national sovereignty and the rights of our country. It is self-evident that the Greek side is coming in good faith and expects the Turkish side to do the same."
Tarantilis also referred to the strengthening of the deterrent capacity of the armed forces.
"The government has already implemented the plan announced by the prime minister in Thessaloniki to strengthen the deterrent capacity of the Armed Forces. As you know, the procurement of 18 'RAFALE' fighter aircraft was voted for by Parliament. Today, the French Minister of Defence, Florence Parly, is in our country, for the signing of the relevant agreement at the Ministry of National Defence. Τhis will be followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion. We also inform you that in the coming days the first pilots and technicians of our Air Force will leave for training in France. The receipt of the first six aircraft will start in July."