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Greece-Turkey Talks Set for January 25

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Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens. Credit: Greek Government

The Greece-Turkey talks which have been bruited about for some time, but not finalized, have now been set for January 25, according to a statement from the Greek Foreign Ministry on Monday evening.
The 61st first round of what are diplomatically termed “Investigative Contacts” will take place in Istanbul on January 25, 2021, the Foreign Ministry says.
According to diplomatic sources, just a few hours ago the Turkish side contacted Greek officials and suggested that the diplomatic parleys take place in Istanbul on January 25.
Greek officials accepted the invitation, and the much-anticipated talks will take place exactly two weeks from now. Earlier in the day, a minor brouhaha had taken place when it was noted that Turkey had not yet invited the Greek side nor informed the EU that the talks were going to take place.

Consternation earlier on Monday

“So far, the Greek Foreign Ministry has not received any invitation from the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding the setting of a date for the 61st round of the Investigative Contacts,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said in response to a reporter’s question today.
However, earlier in the day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu said in a statement that Turkey was calling on Greece to restart its investigations within the month of January.
It is recalled that the last round of talks between the two countries, who are frequently at odds, took place in 2016 in Athens.

“Willing to respond”

“Greece, as it is known, has expressed its willingness to respond, in case of a relevant invitation of the Turkish side, to the basis of International Law with the object of delimiting the EEZ and the continental shelf,” Papaioannou stated.
During a previously-scheduled meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Prime Minister Mitsotakis stated that the talks are only “for the only issue we are facing, which is nothing more than the definition of maritime zones in the Aegean.”
Mitsotakis referred briefly to the statements made by Turkish Foreign Minister MevlutCavusoglu, confirming that Greece had not received any invitation yet from Turkey to start the exploratory contacts.
In response to a question posed by the press, the Prime Minister said that Greece will enter into exploratory contacts with Turkey when the date for such is finalized, following the directions given by the European Council itself, “which are nothing more than starting from where we left off in March 2016, to make progress on the issue of defining the maritime zones in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean.”
Mitsotakis said that the procedure is simple. The general secretaries of the two foreign ministers must agree that the talks will take place, then the date will be set.

“Time to find a date”

“This has not happened. But I hold on to the fact that Turkey expresses its will to start the process,” the PM said.
“It’s time to stop playing groomsmen, find a date and start contacts,” he added. “It will be a positive first step. The European Council has emphasized that this policy requires consistency and continuity, and I think that is what will be decided by Mr. Borrell’s report to be presented to us in March.”

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