ATHENS – Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos rejected out of hand Turkey’s idea to share energy and other resources in the Aegean Sea with Greece that was put forth by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
Turkey made the offer on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels, the defense alliance having earlier admitted it wants no part of the feud between them over the seas and refusing to intervene over Turkish provocations.
That has included Turkey repeatedly sending fighter jets and warships to violate Greek airspace and waters and Akar spoke after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip agreed to rachet down tensions.
Greece was said, reported Kathimerini, to view Akar’s suggestion as a maneuver ahead of the summer when both countries usually set aside their difference so as not to interfere with tourism.
Akar had said, “We are holding our talks sincerely, openly, honestly and transparently,” adding: “This is important in terms of the prosperity of the people of the two countries and the sharing of the beauties and riches of the Aegean. There are tourism, fishing and many other riches. We are in favor of using these together, we said this.”
“We have received a positive response from our interlocutor in this sense,” he claimed but there was no word from Greece on whether that was accurate or just bluster for further positioning.
After talking with Panagiotopoulos, Akar said Turkey favors joint exploitation of “the riches of the Aegean” with Greece, although Erdogan had said he will send Turkish ships to hunt for energy off Greek islands.
“We are holding our talks sincerely, openly, honestly and transparently,” he told journalists after NATO’s Extraordinary Meeting of Defense Ministers, the paper said then.
“This is important in terms of the prosperity of the people of the two countries and the sharing of the beauties and riches of the Aegean. There are tourism, fishing and many other riches. We are in favor of using these together, we said this,” Akar said.
That would mark a 180-degree turn from warning it would be a cause for war if Greece doubles its seas boundaries to 12 miles and demands that Greece take troops off islands near Turkey’s coastline.