Greek foreign minister says Athens is ready for talks with Turkey to resolve sea borders dispute


In a significant development, Greece's newly appointed foreign minister expressed the country's readiness to initiate discussions with Turkey in order to address the longstanding issue of maritime borders that has brought the two neighbours to the brink of conflict multiple times.

Giorgos Gerapetritis, Greece's Foreign Minister, stated that the Greek government aims to capitalize on the current positive climate and reach an agreement on delineating exclusive economic rights in the respective areas of both countries. This includes determining the boundaries for exploring natural gas reserves.

The disputed regions, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, have been a subject of contention between Greece and Turkey, with conflicting claims over potential gas reserves. Greece intends to commence offshore oil and gas exploration in these areas.

The dispute over drilling rights previously escalated into a naval standoff three years ago, highlighting the severity of tensions between the two nations.

All that remains is to determine whether Turkey also sincerely wishes to forge a path of rapprochement, without this meaning that Greece will go back on its red lines or its national priorities," Gerapetritis said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart, Constantinos Kombos.

Gerapetritis said at the top of those priorities is an agreement to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus as a federation made up of Greek and Turkish-speaking sectors in line with United Nations resolutions.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of the Union with Greece. Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriots now insist that any peace deal first recognises separate Turkish Cypriot sovereignty.

Greek and Turkish officials have held a series of high-level meetings in the wake of devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey in February. They promised to shelve disputes that have caused repeated rounds of tension and even the risk of war over decades.

Just before his reelection last month, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told The Associated Press in an interview that he would extend "a hand of friendship" to Turkey.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024