Turkey is ready for talks with Greece amid ongoing tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, said Turkey’s ruling party on Tuesday.

“There is no problem for Turkey beginning negotiations,” said Omer Celik, spokesman for the Justice and Development (AK) Party, after a Central Decision and Executive Board meeting at party headquarters in the capital Ankara.

“If someone brings their maximalist demands to the table and says ‘give up your own rights and interests,’ there will be no negotiations,” Celik added, referring to Greek demands to date.

He stressed that Turkey favors “negotiation and diplomacy” but without conditions.

“We are a deep-rooted state that feels responsible for regional peace, and we act with this responsibility,” he added.

Celik accused France of acting to protect “special interests” instead of contributing to regional peace in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions have recently escalated over the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the region, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have rights in the region.

To reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure fair sharing of the region’s resources.

Turkey tells Armenia to ‘stop playing with fire’

On an Azerbaijani soldier martyred Monday in an Armenian attack, Celik warned Yerevan, saying such offensives are “unacceptable” for Turkey.

“Armenia should know that it is playing with fire,” he added.

“Armenia, which occupied Upper Karabakh unlawfully and unjustly, is carrying out these attacks in the Tovuz region,” he said.

Celik accused Armenia of being “the focal point of the instability and activities causing turmoil in the region.”

“Turkey, unconditionally, stands with Azerbaijan and its Azerbaijani brothers,” he said. “Our brother who was martyred in Azerbaijan is also our martyr.”

On Monday, an Azerbaijani soldier was martyred in a cross-border attack by Armenian forces.

Junior Sgt. Elshan Mammadov Alioglu lost his life in the attack on Azerbaijan’s border province of Tovuz, the Defense Ministry said.

Since 1991, the Armenian military has illegally occupied the Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh region, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions as well as decisions by many international organizations refer to this fact and demand the withdrawal of the occupying Armenian forces from Upper Karabakh and seven other occupied regions of Azerbaijan.

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