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Iran Press TV

Greece says ready for conditional de-escalation with Turkey in Mediterranean

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 27 August 2020 6:32 AM

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says Athens is ready for a "significant de-escalation" in the eastern Mediterranean if Turkey stops its "provocative actions" in the area.

In a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, Mitsotakis offered to de-escalate "on the condition that Turkey immediately stops its provocative actions."

Turkey and Greece have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey has dispatched a seismic research vessel – and warships to escort it – to an area in the sea that is disputed with Greece.

Greek naval vessels have been shadowing the Turkish ships. Earlier, one Greek and one Turkish naval vessel were involved in a minor collision.

Germany, meanwhile, has been mediating to defuse the tensions between Turkey and Greece.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said after a meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that Ankara was ready for talks with Athens without any preconditions.

"We are in favor of negotiations for fair sharing but nobody should lay down preconditions. This cannot happen with preconditions laid down by Greece," Cavusoglu said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said on Wednesday that his country would not give up "what it deserves" in the Mediterranean Sea, threatening Greece with "ruin."

Separately on Wednesday, Greece and its European Union (EU) allies France, Italy, and Cyprus held military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean while Turkey carried out its own with the US Navy nearby.

Mass, who visited both Greece and Turkey, said the dispute between the two countries, both of them NATO members, had now entered a "very critical" phase, criticizing the joint naval drills by the US and Turkey as "not helpful."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said he is "personally regularly in contact with Ankara and Athens."

France has been more assertive against Turkey. The Mediterranean "should not be a playground for the ambitions of some – it's a shared asset," French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted earlier, in an apparent reference to Turkey.

Meanwhile, an informal EU foreign ministerial meeting is scheduled in the German capital, Berlin, for Thursday and Friday. Greece is expected to press the bloc to impose sanctions on Turkey.

Greece and Turkey almost went to war in 1974 over Cyprus, which has since been divided, with the northern third run by a Turkish Cypriot administration recognized only by Turkey and the southern two-thirds governed by the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government.

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