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Turkey, Greece Ministers to Meet in Athens After War of Words

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The April meeting between the two Ministers, held in Ankara, ended with arguments in front of the world’s cameras. Credit: Twitter/Nikos Dendias

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said he will visit Greece on May 31 for talks with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias.

The Minister confirmed his visit with the state broadcaster TRT on May 26.

Cavusoglu earlier said his talks with the Greek Foreign Minister also aim to prepare for a possible meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The visit comes more than a month after Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias held talks in Ankara where Cavusoglu and his counterpart had a war of words at a joint press conference.

The two Ministers argued in front of cameras during the press conference in a rare heated public exchange. They remained at odds over a number of issues, despite hopes that their meeting could have opened an opportunity to lessen tensions over maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The visit of Dendias to Turkey was the first between the two nations after tensions rose to a fever pitch in 2020 over maritime boundaries and energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, leading to a military buildup that featured warships from the two countries facing off.

Greece, Turkey continue talks in confidence-building measures

Meanwhile, the fourth round of a meeting on confidence-building measures between the delegations of the Turkish and Greek defense ministries was scheduled for May 26-27 via video conference, the Turkish Defense Ministry had said earlier.

Turkey and Greece were at loggerheads over territory and undersea energy resources last year after Ankara sent several drillships to explore energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

On Monday, Turkish Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Donmez announced that Turkey would not cease drilling in Greece’s and Cyprus’ exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

Despite Donmez’s announcement, analysts believe it is unlikely that Turkey will resume drilling in Greece and Cyprus’ territorial waters anytime soon. Rather, it is possible that Turkey is holding this trump card close in order to be able to retaliate if meetings and contact between the two countries and the wider European Union break down.

The Turkish and Greek military officials launched talks to reduce the risk of conflict and accidents in the Aegean and Mediterranean under NATO auspices after months of tension. The two neighbors also resumed political discussions to resolve their differences.

“We will have a meeting with our Greek counterparts within the framework of confidence-building measures, albeit from a distance. Once again, we will express that we are waiting for them for the fourth meeting to be held in Ankara,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters last week, according to Turkish daily Hurriyet.

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