Germany calls for dialogue between Turkey, Greece
"The current situation in the eastern Mediterranean is equivalent to playing with fire," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after meeting his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Athens. "Every little spark can lead to catastrophe."
Maas said the windows for dialogue should not be closed but further opened between Turkey and Greece. “To achieve this, we need steps toward easing of tensions and to initiate direct discussions instead of new provocations. We want to support this as much as we can,” he added.
"Turkey and Greece are our NATO allies. There can only be solutions for the disputed questions surrounding the gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean on the basis of international law and in sincere dialogue,'' Maas said before his visit to the two countries.
"The tensions are not just weighing on the relationship between the EU and Turkey. A further escalation can only damage all sides, but above all those immediately involved on the spot.''
Maas' visit to Ankara and Athens comes ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers later this week, in which the latest tensions in the eastern Mediterranean will be discussed. EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Berlin on Aug. 27-28 and will discuss the issue.
After meeting with Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Dendias, Maas will head to Ankara to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Aug. 25
NATO allies Greece and Turkey vehemently disagree about their overlapping claims on hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, based on conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend.
Tensions rose after Turkey deployed its Oruç Reis survey vessel to waters Ankara claims in a move Athens called illegal.
On Aug. 24, Turkey issued an advisory known as a Navtex to extend the vessel's operations until Aug. 27. Greece then issued its own advisory that it will hold military exercises in the same area, off the Greek island of Crete.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said Turkish and allied navy ships would be conducting "maritime training'' in the eastern Mediterranean on Aug. 25 "to promote coordination and interoperability.'' Local media reported the exercise would be conducted south of the Greek island of Crete.
Greece responded by declaring it will carry out a three-day military exercise in the area.