ATHENS — After much jockeying, Greek and Turkish officials will sit down March 16 in Athens for a 62nd round of exploratory talks, these focused on Turkey's claim to waters around Greek islands, planning to hunt for oil and gas.
The two sides met Jan. 25 in Constantinople in an informal four-hour chit-chat that was designed to be nothing else other than picking up talks after a four-year pause, but there no notes, no minutes nor nothing of substance discussed.
The Greek Foreign Ministry announced only the date but no details of the agenda after Turkey had earlier insisted on adding other issues, such as its demand that Greece remove troops off islands near Turkey's coast.
Turkish media reported there would be political consultations between the Greek and Turkish deputy foreign ministers alongside the talks that are still being held at the low-level technical phase.
It will come a week before the European Union on March 25 is set to take up for a third time the dilemma between the countries after twice setting aside Greek demands for sanctions over Turkey’s plan to search for oil and gas in waters around Greek islands.
Instead of calming the waters before the talks, Turkey sent an energy research vessel into the Aegean and conducted an air drill under its Blue Homeland doctrine which claims large swathes of the seas and Greek islands.
Turkey also objected to Greek warships being off the Greek island of Kastellorizo in Greek waters, parts of which Turkey claims under a maritime deal with Libya no other country recognizes.