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Greece and Turkey Continue Talks as Erdogan Rules Out Concessions

Greece Turkey talks
Diplomats from Greece (left) and Turkey hold a meeting on Tuesday in Athens. Credit: AMNA

Talks between diplomats from Greece and Turkey continue on Wednesday in Athens, a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that his country will not make any concessions in the Mediterranean.

The 62nd bilateral “exploratory talks” between Greek and Turkish officials started without a hitch on Tuesday in Athens.

The talks, which lasted four hours, were led by the same veteran career civil servants who were at the 61st round, in Istanbul: Ambassador Pavlos Apostolidis, who also served as head of the National Intelligence Agency, and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.

Wednesday’s talks will take place at the level of acting secretaries general of the foreign ministries of both countries.

The talks aim at maintaining open channels of communication between the two countries.

Greece says that the contacts are being carried out on the basis of international law and especially the Law of the Sea, and always for the benefit of both peoples, including the gradual normalization of bilateral relations.

Officials add that the normalization can take place in all areas of activity, without any compromise on issues of national sovereignty and sovereign rights.

The contacts between Greece and Turkey are informal talks and not negotiations, Athens insists.

They aim to explore points of convergence for possible future negotiations regarding the delimitation of the continental shelf and the EEZ in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Erdogan: No concessions

Regarding the Greek-Turkish exploratory talks, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that Greece is coming to them with good will.

“We hope that they will lead to finding a common ground for the resolution of the one and only bilateral difference we have with Turkey, namely the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and of the continental shelf in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.

But the two sides seemed far apart both on the scope and details of the talks.

Turkish President Erdogan said on Tuesday it was “out of the question for us to make any concessions.”

Addressing a news conference, he added: “Turkey is in a decision-making position in the Eastern Mediterranean” and that the country’s “determined stance remains the same.”

The US on Turkey’s provocations against Greece

Last week, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his concern for Turkey’s provocative actions against Greece, such as its violations of the airspace of other countries.

Testifying before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken said that the United States has spoken up about actions that violate international law in the Eastern Mediterranean — which includes Turkey’s actions against Greece.

“We have looked with real concern over the last year and of course more recently, at some of the actions taken in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly by Turkey, in terms of various claims,” Blinken said.

“It is very important that the US stands up and engages in advancing stability sovereignty and territorial integrity of all parties in Eastern Mediterranean and insists that any disputes that arise will be resolved peacefully, diplomatically, not militarily, not through provocative actions,” he added.

“We have called out actions, including by Turkey, that violate international law or commitments as NATO ally and that includes provocative actions against Greece like violations of airspace,” the Secretary of State added.

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