Turkey urges Greece to support NATO-backed de-escalation talks

Turkey has urged Greece to support a NATO-sponsored initiative aimed to launch technical talks between Athens and Ankara to calm the escalating tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has initiated an initiative to reduce the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and prevent unwanted accidents, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“These de-confliction negotiations, which are not about the solution of bilateral issues between Greece and Turkey, are primarily related to bilateral arrangements previously discussed between the military authorities of the two countries,” Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying on Thursday.

“We expect Greece to support this initiative of the NATO Secretary-General,” it added.

The Ministry further said that Ankara is ready for dialogue with Greece, without preconditions, in order to find permanent solutions to all issues between the two countries in the framework of international law.

Turkey and Greece have agreed to enter talks to establish “de-confliction mechanisms” in the Eastern Mediterranean, Stoltenberg had announced earlier in the day.

Athens and Ankara have been at odds over hydrocarbon rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ankara dispatched its seismic survey vessel, Oruc Reis, escorted by Turkish warships to the Eastern Mediterranean after Greece and Egypt signed a maritime border agreement on the region.

Greece, which has called on Turkey to withdraw its vessels from the area, has also deployed warships to monitor Oruc Reis.

While Greece considers the explorations illegal, the Ankara government believes the waters belong to the Turkish continental shelf.