Turkey wants no pre-conditions, ‘honest’ EU mediation for talks with Greece

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Turkey’s foreign minister said on Aug. 25 that Greece must abandon its “maximalist approach” and pre-conditions for dialogue to begin over disputed offshore Mediterranean resources, adding Ankara expects the EU to act as an “honest and objective” mediator.

“We are open to talks without pre-conditions,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a press conference alongside German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Ankara.

“But, when one side starts imposing pre-conditions, then there are many things we will put forth too. Before anything, Greece needs to abandon its maximalist approach,” he added.

Çavışoğlu also warned Greece against taking missteps in the eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkey is ready to do “whatever is necessary” to protect its legitimate interests in the region.

He also urged Greece to not to “put itself at risk” by rising to the bait of “some countries” in the eastern Mediterranean.

Çavuşoğlu stressed that the recent escalation in tensions in the eastern Mediterranean is due to the approach of Greece and Greek Cypriot administration, not Turkey’s.

During the news conference, Maas also underlined that escalation in the eastern Mediterranean helps neither the EU, nor Turkey, nor Greece. He said that Germany and Turkey told him that they did not want to settle their dispute over the eastern Mediterranean with military means.

“I hear from all sides that the readiness to dialogue exists and that is why we regard it as achievable,” said Maas at the news conference with Çavuşoğlu.

“I remain convinced that if both sides start direct talks with honest intentions we can find a solution that can be acceptable to both sides,” he said.

Maas also said that ties between the European Union and Turkey were at a crossroads and it would be clear by the end of the year where relations were heading.

This week Turkey and later Greece sent out conflicting alerts on energy exploration and military exercises in the Mediterranean.

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

Turkey has sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

Dialogue for fair sharing of these resources will be win-win for all sides, Turkish officials say.

Hurriyet Daily News

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