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Turkey, Greece to resume maritime dispute talks on 25 January

The Greek foreign ministry said it was willing to engage in talks on continental shelf borders and exclusive economic zones

AFP , Monday 11 Jan 2021
Greek FM Nikos Dendias
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias .Reuters
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Turkey and Greece said Monday that they would resume talks over their eastern Mediterranean borders and disputed natural gas rights on January 25.

The announcement came hours after Ankara invited Athens for talks aimed at resolving a long-standing row over lucrative energy deposits in the eastern Mediterranean.

"The 61st round of exploratory talks will take place in Istanbul on 25 January, 2021," the Turkish and Greek foreign ministries said in separate statements.

The talks have been stalled since 2016.

In December, EU leaders decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets for sanctions because of Ankara's "unilateral actions and provocations" in disputed waters near Cyprus and Greece.

Tensions rose sharply when Turkey sent a seismic research vessel and an accompanying navy flotilla on a months-long expedition in disputed waters last year.

Turkey and Greece then staged rival military exercises with regional partners and saw two of their gun boats collide in August.

The sides expressed a willingness to restart the talks without ever agreeing a timeframe as they came under increasing NATO and EU pressure.

"We invite Greece to hold the first meeting in January," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier on Monday after meeting Turkish Cypriot foreign minister Tahsin Ertugruloglu in Ankara.

The Greek foreign ministry said it was willing to engage in talks on continental shelf borders and exclusive economic zones.

Cavusoglu will probably address the dispute and the new mediation efforts when he meets EU ambassadors in Ankara on Tuesday.

He is also due to visit Brussels on January 21.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has softened some of his most strident rhetoric and expressed a desire to improve relations with the EU in the past month.

His office said Erdogan told European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen over the weekend that he wanted to "turn a new page" in Turkey's relations with the 27-nation bloc.

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