Greece-Turkey Talk Confidence Measures, Tension Remains

February 22, 2020

ATHENS – Talks between Greek and Turkish defense officials for Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) wrapped up in the Greek capital on Feb. 20 even as they were held under the specter of tough talk from Turkey and repeated invasions of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets.

The state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) said the talks finished but there was no report on what, if anything, was accomplished as both sides ratcheted up the rhetoric between them.

According to the Defense Ministry, the heads of the two delegations met briefly with Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos but it wasn’t said what was discussed although the foreign ministers of both countries swapped shots at each other.

At the same time Turkish fighter jets and ships keep violating Greek airspace and waters, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country is willing to compromise over rights to the Aegean and East Mediterranean.

But he said that’s dependent on Greece sharing the resources as Turkey is already drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters and do the same off Crete under deal made with Libya to divide the seas, claiming areas off Greek islands.

“We say to Greece ‘we can reach an agreement’ as long as you are ready to compromise. Be ready to share in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, in response, said Greece would not make “a dishonorable and abusive compromise” with Turkey, reported Kathimerini.

Speaking during an event at the Foreign Ministry, Dendias said that Greece has always been willing to reach “an honorable understanding in the context of international law.”

Cavusoglu seemed to reach out a bit, however, after Greece angrily rejected a claim by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan he’s already made Greece accept that Turkey has rights in areas disputed, with Turkey not recognizing parts of Greece’s Continental Shelf.

“As we have repeatedly stressed, illegal actions produce no legal effect,” said Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Gennimatas, who denounced “moves that continue to undermine regional peace and security, creating, among other things, pretexts for the violation of the arms embargo in Libya and for the attempt to usurp the sovereign rights of countries in the region.”

”Unfortunately, in this, too, Turkey continues to be a minority of one,” he said, reported Kathimerini.


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