EU, US welcome resumption of talks between Turkey, Greece
The U.S. and the EU welcomed on Jan. 25 the first round of talks between Greece and Turkey in nearly five years that are intended to resolve energy and border disputes in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean.
“The United States welcomes the resumption of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey in Istanbul today and the commitment of both governments to this process,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Twitter. “We support all efforts to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Price added.
The talks concluded earlier on Jan. 25 at the Dolmabahçe Office in Istanbul, with Turkish diplomatic sources telling state-run Anadolu Agency the negotiations included discussions of outstanding issues from previous negotiations, as well as the current situation, recent developments and possible steps to be taken ahead of the next round, which will be held in Athens.
In a press conference following a meeting of EU foreign ministers, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell called the restarted exploratory talks “an important step” towards “advancing and consolidating our dialogue and cooperation.”
He also praised “the important messages and gestures of the Turkish authorities” to settle last year’s tensions with the bloc.
“We reviewed all the issues that put a lot of troubles in our relations in 2020, and both of us agreed to overcome them,” he said, referring to Çavuşoğlu’s visit last week to Brussels.
The leaders promised to “look for a better way of sharing concerns and working together for a better neighborhood,” Borrell explained. “We agreed that both parts will keep this momentum to use it positively in order to try to reach agreements,” he added.
On Twitter, Turkey’s presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın underlined the importance of regional peace and stability. “Under the strong leadership of our president, it is possible to solve all problems, including the Aegean, and we have the full will for this,” he wrote. “Regional peace and stability is in everyone’s interest.”
Ankara and Athens held 60 rounds of talks from 2002 to 2016, which were then suspended over an objection by the Greek side regarding the content.
Last year, the plans for the resumption of exploratory talks foundered over a survey vessel that Turkey sent into disputed waters and over disagreements concerning territorial claims in the region.
Turkey is furious that Greece is using its web of islands to lay claim to huge swathes of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Ankara also accuses Athens of illegally stationing troops on some of its islands and wants to discuss aerial zones.
On Jan. 11, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu invited Greece to resume the talks, demonstrating how Turkey favors dialogue, cooperation, and resolution.
The Istanbul meeting came during a sudden spurt in diplomatic contacts aimed at thawing an ever-deeper chill in relations that have frozen EU accession talks Turkey began in 2005.