Turkey expects Greece to revive dialogue channels without any preconditions, FM Çavuşoğlu says

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks on tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean during a televised interview with NTV, Sept. 14, 2020. (AA Photo)

Turkey expects Greece to revive all channels of dialogue without any preconditions in resolving the continuing dispute over maritime zones and drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday.

“A string of maximalist claims cannot be imposed upon Turkey through the EU, which has no competence over maritime boundary delimitation,” Çavuşoğlu said in an analysis article he wrote for Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

“Dialogue and negotiations are indeed the first and foremost means in international law to address maritime boundary issues. We thus expect Greece to revive all dialogue channels with Turkey without any preconditions,” he added.

“Preconditions beget counter-preconditions (believe me, we could come up with quite a few of our own) and thus are not a good way to seek talks between two neighbors,” he wrote.

In a separate analysis for Kathimerini on the same day, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias stated that Greece is ready to restart the dialogue that will lead to negotiations in order to resolve the dispute or to refer it to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

Dendias underlined that peace and security for future generations, good faith and dialogue are and must be the common goal of the two neighbors. “Particularly in the case of neighbors like Greece and Turkey, who share a heavy historical past and a difficult present in their bilateral relations. What is required, in the case of Turkey, is the road that will lead us there. It is a difficult road, but we must be optimistic that we will walk it,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu criticized the claim of 40,000 square kilometers (154,44 square miles) of the continental shelf for the small island of Kastellorizo (Megisti-Meis) and demanded the protection of Turkish Cypriots’ equal rights over the island’s offshore resources through the establishment of an equitable revenue sharing mechanism.

Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration have for weeks been sparring with Turkey about natural gas reserves and maritime boundaries. Ankara claims the right to prospect and drill for gas in areas the two European Union member states claim for their own exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

Last week, at an informal summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, leaders of the so-called EuroMed 7 group warned that the EU was ready to consider further sanctions if Turkey didn’t halt its “unilateral activities” in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey has long contested the Greek Cypriot administration’s unilateral drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also has rights to the resources in the region.

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