Pointing Guns, Turkey Willing to Talk With Greece, Pope Chimes In

September 1, 2020

With an energy research vessel and 10 warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo where it's planning to hunt for oil and gas, Turkey said it's willing to negotiate with Greece over who owns the waters.

Greece said the seas there are in its Continental Shelf, disputed by Turkey which claimed them under a maritime deal with Libya dividing the seas between them, unrecognized by another country.

Greece, which sent warships to shadow the Turkish gunboats, responded with an agreement with Egypt setting seas boundaries in the East Mediterranean, adding to the rising tension and fears a conflict could break out.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey, which could face European Union sanctions for its provocations, is open to dialogue although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called off planned talks in Ankara with Greek officials after the Greece-Egypt agreement.

Besides the US, the United States wants dialogue – President Trump spoke on the phone with Erdogan and twice with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis – and now Pope Francis added his voice.

"I appeal for constructive dialogue and respect for international law to resolve the conflicts that threaten the peace of the peoples of that region," he tweeted, but without mentioning either country by name.

While he said Turkey was willing to be conciliatory after earlier saying any talks would be based on only Greece making concessions, Cavusoglu also said Greece was trying to provoke Turkey by adopting a hostile attitude, said Reuters.

Turkish violations of the territorial waters of EU members Greece and Cyprus, where Turkey is already drilling, are “completely unacceptable” and Europe needs to “leave the age of innocence behind and shape its own destiny,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian  said.

He told a meeting in Paris that was also attended by his German counterpart Heiko Maas, has a duty to “respond collectively” when one of its members is facing a policy that is “aggressive and unjustified” and poses a “threat against the Union’s sovereignty and interests,” according to Greece’s state-run Athens Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA.)

The EU said Turkey has until Sept. 24 to enter into dialogue or resolve the situation or could face sanctions, a tactic Erdogan has already disdained over Cyprus.


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