Talks between Greece and Turkey, described as “exploratory contacts,” resumed on Monday in Istanbul, after almost five years.
Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, a close associate of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is also taking part in the talks between diplomats from both sides.
Greece and Turkey will try to find points of convergence for possible future negotiations regarding the delimitation of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, based on international law.
The Greek side has repeatedly stressed that it will not discuss the demilitarization of the islands.
It has also ruled out negotiating any issue that concerns national sovereignty. The country’s position is in line with international maritime law.
The decision to expand territorial waters is a sovereign right of the country, Athens has stressed.
It has made it clear that it retains in full the right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles anywhere and at any time.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reminded Greece that “Turkey’s position on the issue of the Aegean has not changed.”
“The decision taken by the Turkish parliament has not changed,” he said, referring to the 1995 declaration by the House that if Greece extends its territorial water to 12 nautical miles, as it reserves the right to do so under international law, this would constitute a casus belli.
Greece draws ‘red lines’
Greece has clearly stated that it is coming to the 61st round of exploratory contacts with confidence, in good faith, a spirit of cooperation, a constructive climate and the hope that the talks will lead to de-escalation and that the Turkish side will come in a similar spirit.
Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias underlined in an interview published on Saturday there are some issues which “are not up for discussion”, such as those concerning “national sovereignty and the demilitarization of Greek islands.”
In any case, continued the minister, exploratory talks “are not negotiations, they are informal, there are no minutes taken during the meetings, and neither side has to assume responsibilities or make commitments.”
The two delegations will continue the discussions held during the 60th round of exploratory contacts in Athens on March 1, 2016.