Ankara calls on Athens to expand Aegean moratorium

Ankara calls on Athens to expand Aegean moratorium

Ankara calls on Athens to expand Aegean moratorium

Türkiye has proposed to Greece to expand a moratorium for suspending all military drills in the Aegean Sea during the tourism season, the defense minister has said, reiterating Ankara’s wish for turning the Aegean Sea into a sea of friendship.

“We want the Aegean Sea to be the sea of friendship where the two people live in security, prosperity and happiness by sharing all the richness [of the sea]. There is a bilateral moratorium for not holding military drills during the tourism season. We told them we are ready to expand the scope of it and discuss this matter,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said during the ceremony of a military drill in Muğla on the Aegean coast on May 12.

Türkiye is not acting as an aggressor against any of its neighbors, particularly Greece, Akar stressed, underlining that it favors resolving all the problems through dialogue and peaceful ways and in line with international law.

Both Türkiye and Greece are holding elections, the former on May 14 and the latter on May 21. Ankara and Athens have sought to defuse the tension in their relations in recent months, especially after the devastating Feb. 6 earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 Turks in the southeastern provinces. Greece was one of the first countries rushing to the help with search and rescue teams and humanitarian aid.

Akar also shared his views about ongoing talks with Russia and Ukraine for the extension of the grain deal, which will expire on May 18. Recalling that more than 30 million tons of grain could be exported to the world markets thanks to the initiative that was launched in mid-2022 with the efforts of Türkiye and the U.N., Akar said the continuation of it was crucial for preventing famine and keeping stability in terms of global food supplies and prices.

The teams from Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the U.N. held two-day talks in Istanbul for overcoming the problems and meeting Russia’s demands for the continuation of the initiative.

Akar noted that the talks were positive and that the teams will continue their efforts in the coming days.

In the meantime, Akar also informed that Türkiye and Ukraine have agreed to the safe return of six Turkish vessels that were stranded in the Ukrainian ports.