Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar met with his Greek counterpart on the side-lines of a NATO meeting on Thursday amid heightened tensions between the regional rivals, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Akar and Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos discussed the “importance of continuing the dialogue in order to reduce tensions,” according a statement from the Turkish defence ministry.
Greece and Turkey have long been at odds over migration, maritime borders and mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
The latest bout of tensions between the NATO allies flared up last month over islands in the Aegean Sea, with both sides increasing military presence in contested waters . Ankara has warned Athens to demilitarise the islands that it claims were peacefully ceded to Greece.
Akar and Panagiotopoulos on Thursday discussed the need to keep the channels of communication open, to focus on a positive agenda and bilateral and regional cooperation, the Turkish defence ministry said.
During the meeting, Panagiotopoulos told Akar that the two countries could not move forward if Turkey “continues with this rhetoric and these policies,” AP reported, citing Greece’s state-run television.
Athens maintains Turkey’s remarks about it arming the islands are unfounded.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis earlier this week said Turkey’s position that questions Greece’s sovereignty over its Aegean islands was “absurd,” rendering any talks between the two countries difficult, Reuters said.
Both countries have sent letters to the United Nations outlining their rival positions on airspace and the islands.