Greece will not sit for exploratory talks with Turkey as long as Oruc Reis vessel remains in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek foreign minister said Tuesday.
During a news conference with his Canadian counterpart Francois-Philippe Champagne, Nikos Dendias accused Turkey of not being a “credible interlocutor” after Turkey’s 10-day Navtex (navigational telex) in the region.
Meanwhile, Champagne said Canada is in favor of a dialogue to resolve the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean.
He added that they are also in contact with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg regarding the issue.
The top Canadian diplomat also met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to discuss bilateral relations and the tension the Eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey and Greece agreed to hold the 61st round of exploratory talks in Istanbul soon.
The 60th round, the last of the exploratory talks initiated between the two countries in 2002, was held in Athens on March 1, 2016. After this date, the bilateral negotiations continued in the form of political consultations but did not return to an exploratory framework.
Eastern Mediterranean dispute
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration in the region, and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent several drill ships in the past weeks to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.
* Writing and contribution by Iclal Turan in Ankara.
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