Germany Wants Greece-Turkey Talks Before EU Showdown

Αssociated Press

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool)

Trying to mediate a dispute between Greece and Turkey over the rights to the East Mediterranean, German wants officials from the two sides to negotiate before a planned Sept. 24-25 European Union summit over the issue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had persuaded Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pull the energy research vessel the Oruc Reis and warships from near the Greek island Kastellorizo where he wants to drill for oil and gas.

That was done under a maritime deal Turkey signed with Libya dividing the seas between them and claiming parts of Greece's Continental Shelf but he sent them back after Greece made a similar agreement with Egypt.

That had also led Erdogan to cancel planned talks in Ankara between officials fo the two countries, both members of NATO, which had refused to intervene over constant Turkish violations of Greek airspace and waters.

The defense alliance said it would broker discussions between them on Sept. 10 after Greece initially said it wouldn't talk unless Turkey pulled its ships out, the tension reaching near a conflict level and fears it would engulf the region.

Germany, home to millions of Turks, had refused to back Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' demand for tough sanctions, and said it would stay neutral instead of supporting a fellow EU member.

Germany said it would submit proposals regarding NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg's attempt to deescalate the crisis but the Greek side said there was not yet a “technical dialogue,” merely submitting comments for the creation of a conflict prevention mechanism, said Kathimerini.

That came as Mitsotakis was headed to Corsica Sept. 10 to meet French President Emanuel Macron, who has aligned his country with Greece, which wants to buy French frigates and Rafale fighter jets to boost its arsenal.

At a NATO North Atlantic Council (NATO) meeting held at the request of Mitsotakis, Greece presented Turkey’s destabilizing role in the Mediterranean and its impact, the paper also said.

Greece’s Permanent Representative to NATO Spyros Lampridis reportedly noted that Turkey is cooperating with Russia and Iran in the Middle East, undermining NATO, and sponsors terrorist organizations in countries such as Syria. 

He also pointed out Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses which could undermine NATO and be used against Greece and other members of the alliance, bought from an ideological enemy of NATO.

He said Erdogan's aggressive behavior is a threat and violates Article 1 of the NATO Treaty, which requires members to resolve any international dispute via peaceful means and refrain from the “threat or use of force.”

Lampridis said Turkey has to pull its ships and that the EU has to impose hard sanctions, unlike soft penalties for Turkey already drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot sovereign waters.