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Exploratory Greece-Turkey Talks Set for March 16 in Athens

Greece turkey talks
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Athens. Credit: Greek Government

Exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey will take place in Athens on March 16 and 17, the Greek Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday.

In addition to the talks, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Odal will meet with Themistoklis Demiris, Greek Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This iteration of diplomatic talks between the neighboring countries will bring the total of exploratory discussions between Greece and Turkey to 62.

The most recent talks were held in Istanbul in late January, where the countries agreed to meet again in the Greek capital.

Most recent Greece-Turkey talks held in January after 5-year hiatus

The meeting in Istanbul was the first time the two countries sat down for a round of diplomatic talks in five years. The exploratory talks, which began 19 years ago, were put on hiatus after Athens broke them off in 2016.

Since then, the countries conducted a series of bilateral talks, but none in the exploratory format, until those held in January.

The exploratory discussions followed a period of heightened tensions between the countries.

In the months before the talks in January, Turkey had conducted a series of “research missions” in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea that amounted to acts of aggression against the neighboring country.

Turkey routinely sent out massive research vessels, often accompanied by Turkish Navy ships, into Greek waters in search of energy reserves under the seabed.

At peak moments of tension between the countries, Turkish vessels inched extremely close to a number of Greek islands, such as Kastellorizo, while Ankara asserted that the islands were actually Turkish.

Hoping to avoid an “expansion” of Turkey’s “agenda,” which included expanding the country’s borders into Greek territory, Greece entered the talks in late January focused on dialogue, de-escalation, and negotiation.

While the talks did not result in major diplomatic progress between Turkey and Greece, they were viewed as an important political step for both countries in the international community.

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