After Turkish Pullback from Energy Hunt in Greek Waters, Now What?

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ATHENS – The relief that Turkey turned an energy hunt vessel and warships headed toward waters off the island of Kastellorizo has been followed by uncertainty over whether there will be diplomacy and talks or more bellicose rhetoric from Ankara.

Greece’s “multifaceted diplomacy has paid off” and tension with Turkey “has eased,” but constructive dialogue is impossible “ if there are any new aggressive acts, Minister of State George Gerapetritis, said.

“Discussing our maritime zones while violations of our national airspace and territorial waters are taking place is just not feasible,” Gerapetritis told state broadcaster ERT.

That came after Turkey suspended planned research for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean within the Greek Continental  Shelf, offering negotiations after earlier saying it would be on the basis of no concessions from Turkey.

pending talks with Greece.

Gerapetris said that Greece is in “favor of dialogue on the basis of the rules of international law” with Turkey on the unresolved issues between the two countries, but only over maritime zones.

“Communication is always preferable to being faced with fait accomplish that may create unnecessary tension, or a mistake that causes an incident that we are then unable to control. Therefore, lines of communication, both diplomatic and operational, are necessary,” Gerapetritis said.

But he said Greece will not accept ultimatums. “Our neighbor has to come to terms with the fact that we are not powerless; that we have the ability to mobilize international organizations that we did not have previously,” he said.

Greece had put its military on high alert when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish ships would go into the Greek waters with the European Union that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005 doing nothing to stop him.

But he said this does not necessarily mean that dialogue between Athens and Ankara is not possible. “There is room for an understanding,” he said, using the vague diplomatic tone meant not to raise any tension between them.