Greek, Turkish Foreign Ministers Say They are Ready for Talks
Greece and Turkey say they are ready for talks to settle rival claims to an energy-rich section of the Mediterranean, but the hostility was clear when the foreign ministers of both countries called for dialogue Tuesday. After talks in Ankara with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Greece must drop what he called its “maximalist demands.” “We are open to talks without pre-conditions. But, when one side starts imposing pre-conditions, then there are many things we will put forth too,” he said. Maas also met in Athens with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who also said Greece wants talks with Turkey but will not go if it is “under threats.” He said Greece is ready to defend its rights and said the dispute with Turkey is a matter for the security of the entire European Union. Maas said a military conflict between Greece and Turkey would be “absolute insanity.” “The situation is very risky, because in the end, whoever moves closer and closer to the abyss, can at some point fall down. That’s a development which we want to avoid,” he said in Ankara. Both Greece and Turkey say they will hold military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. Germany is the current EU president and has been trying to mediate talks between Greece, which belongs to the EU, and Turkey, which does not but would like to join. Greece and Turkey are locked in a dispute over boundaries in the Mediterranean and the rights to drill for offshore gas and oil deposits. Greece claims a Turkish research ship is in its waters, in which it has exclusive rights to whatever is under the sea floor. Turkey insists the Exclusive Economic Zones of Greek islands in the Agean near the Turkish coast should be greatly reduced.