Greece, Turkey signal willingness to talk about sea dispute
Greece’s prime minister welcomed the return of a Turkish survey ship to port Sunday from a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean that has been at the heart of a summer stand-off between Greece and Turkey over energy rights.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was ready to try to restart long-stalled talks on the volatile dispute over potential oil and gas reserves, signaling that the two countries could be inching toward negotiations after weeks of increasingly bellicose rhetoric and fears of armed conflict in the region.
Turkey’s Oruc Reis research ship returned to near the southern port of Antalya for the first time in more than a month after Turkey announced in July that it was dispatching a vessel to work in waters where Greece claims jurisdiction.
“This is a positive first step,” Mitsotakis told reporters in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. “If we see signs of de-escalation in practice … I will be the first to sit at the negotiating table.”
The deployment of the research vessel triggered a military build-up in the eastern Mediterranean. Nominal NATO allies Turkey and Greece both dispatched warships to the area where the Oruc Reis was engaged in seismic research and conducted military exercises to assert their claims.
“In areas where there is no maritime delimitation, there can be no unilateral actions, and that has what Turkey has been doing in recent weeks,” Mitsotakis said.