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Politics

Greece: Contact with Turkey Restarted over East Med Crisis

September 17, 2020

ATHENS — Greece says it has resumed high-level political contacts with neighboring Turkey to try and de-escalate a dispute over offshore energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Stelios Petsas, the Greek government spokesman, said Thursday that direct contacts had restarted after Turkey pulled back a warship-escorted survey vessel at the weekend from an area where Greece claims exclusive rights to potential undersea gas or oil deposits.

The discussions, Petsas said, were taking place between aides to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Allies of the two NATO members have warned that the standoff and rival military build-ups in the area — between Greek islands, Turkey's southern coast, and Cyprus — had increased the risk of a military confrontation.

The European Union is due to consider a list of potential sanctions against Turkey next week. EU officials say the dispute can only be resolved through negotiations.

Petsas said that direct communication between Mitsotakis and Erdogan was possible ahead of the Sept. 24-25 EU meetings.

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