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Iran Press TV

Greece welcomes moves by Turkey to ease tensions

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 06 October 2020 6:52 PM

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he welcomes moves by Turkey to defuse the current tensions between the two countries over sea boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

"Our country welcomes as positive a first step made by Turkey toward de-escalating the recent tensions," the Greek prime minister said after a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Athens on Tuesday.

He added that Ankara needed to show a firmer commitment to improving bilateral ties.

Turkey and Greece, both of them NATO members, have been at loggerheads over oil and gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

In August, Turkey dispatched a seismic research vessel and warships escorting it to prospect for energy resources in an area in the sea that is disputed with Greece, infuriating Athens. Turkey ended the mission of those vessels and ordered them back to shore for maintenance work in mid-September. Ankara said the move was also meant to give diplomacy a chance.

"It now remains to be seen if it is a sincere move or a short-lived maneuver," Mitsotakis said, stressing that Athens was committed to dialog and diplomacy to settle any disputes.

Last week, Stoltenberg announced the creation of a mechanism to prevent accidental clashes in the eastern Mediterranean as part of broader efforts to ease tensions between the two Mediterranean neighbors. The de-escalation mechanism includes establishing a hotline to avoid accidents at sea and in the air.

The NATO chief, for his part, said that he believed the mechanism would also help "create space" for diplomatic efforts.

"It is my firm hope that the underlying disputes between two allies can now be addressed purely through negotiations in the spirit of allied solidarity and international law," Stoltenberg said.

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