The resumption of exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece on Monday took place in a very positive atmosphere, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.
Turkish and Greek officials met in Istanbul to resolve the neighbouring countries’ long-standing differences over maritime borders. The agenda for the discussions, which lasted more than three hours, was not disclosed.
Restarting the meetings, suspended since 2016, was key to resolving differences between the two countries, Çavuşoğlu said at a news conference with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Wednesday, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The talks took place at deputy foreign ministry level on the Turkish side and retired ambassador level on the Greek side. The date for a next round of discussions, to take place in Greece, will be announced later, Çavuşoğlu said.
Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported that the next meeting is slated to take place either at the end of February or in March, before an upcoming summit of the European Union’s political leadership.
“Consultation on how to solve these problems will be beneficial for the two neighbours to reduce the tension at least for now and perhaps to find permanent solutions to these problems in the future,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Previous talks between two countries made little progress in 60 rounds from 2002 to 2016.
Greece and Turkey have long disagreed on overlapping claims to territory and hydrocarbon resources in the region, with both sides holding conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend into the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
Political and military tensions between NATO allies Turkey and Greece have increased sharply in the past year after Turkey sought to explore for minerals off the coast of Cyprus and near Greek islands.
Turkey, which does not recognise Cyprus as a state, claims half of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on behalf of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and has repeatedly carried out warship-escorted offshore drilling in the territory.