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Politics

Wary Greece On Guard About Restarting Talks With Turkey

ATHENS — Broken-off talks between Greece and Turkey over rights to Aegan and East Mediterranean could be resumed if Turkey does not again send an energy research vessel and warships near the Greek island of Kastellorizo.

Sources not identified told Kathimerini that the New Democracy government has received assurances from Turkey that the energy hunt will stay on hold to give diplomacy a chance, a tactic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used before only to immediately balk when he gets an advantage.

The European Union in December, 2019 backed away from vowed sanctions against Turkey that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis demanded, the bloc deferring action after Erdogan pulled out his ships.

After the EU relented, he said the ships would go back in again and now has reportedly said they won’t so that talks with Greece could resume – in Ankara, not Athens – although it’s Turkey that’s been the provocateur.

The EU in October, 2019 first took up the sanctions talk, only to drop it when Mitsotakis wanted to try negotiations again before he in December asked for penalties, which won’t be discussed until a March meeting of the bloc if needed.

There’s been no explanation from the Greek government why its envoys would have to go to Turkey instead of having the talks in Greece and Mitsotakis’ administration is said to be on guard in case Erdogan changes tack again.

Other Turkish officials have been talking tough, including Energy Minister Fatih Dolmez wanting renegotiation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that set borders between the countries, after Erdogan openly coveted return of some islands ceded to Greece then.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar’s repeated demands for the demilitarization of several Greek islands holding troops and arrest of a Turkish diplomat on espionage charges on the Greek island of Rhodes added to the tension.

Mitsotakis, however, is said to hope that the inauguration of Joe Biden on Jan. 20 will make Erdogan change his ways after often having the upper hand with President Donald Trump, a fawning admirer of his.

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