Greece and Turkey to hold new round of talks on January 25

The Greek Foreign Ministry on Monday said it would begin talks with exploratory talks with Turkey on January 25th

Earlier Greece had expressed its intention to respond to an invitation from Ankara, but no such gesture had been made from the Turkish side at the time it was announced, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said

“Greece has expressed its intention to respond to any such invitation from the Turkish side, in accordance with international law, on the issue of demarcation of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the continental shelf,”  Papaioannou said in a statement.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Greek counterpart Dendias agreed in October 2020 to hold exploratory talks over a row over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean. But Greece later cited the withdrawal of a survey vessel from its continental shelf waters as a prerequisite for talks.

Greece and Turkey have long disagreed on overlapping claims on hydrocarbon resources in the region, with both sides holding conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend in the waters.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday said that Ankara was making a official offer to Athens to resume exploratory talks within January, Turkish state-run TRT news reported.

"This is an invitation, and I hope that Greece does not reject this invitation and exploratory talks can resume within this month,’’ Çavuşoğlu said.

The Turkish foreign minister also said that Athens had “no excuse” not to resume talks.

Speaking at a press conference in Lisbon alongside Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa, Mitsotakis acknowledged that Turkey sought to extend an invitation to decide a date for new discussions and agreed that a date should be decided for them. He noted that the Turkish offer was a positive element but any discussions should begin from where they left off in March 2016. 

“Greece will come to the exploratory talks, once the date is finalized, also following the directions the European Council itself has given, which are none other than to essentially continue where we left off in March 2016, in other words to make progress, I hope, on the issue of determining the maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean," Mitsotakis said.  

Meanwhile, European Commission foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano on Monday also said the EU had received no formal notification of the resumption of the talks, Kathimerini reported.

Stano stressed the importance of a resumption of exploratory talks between Athens and Ankara, noting that “irritants” in the relations between any member-state and Turkey were “irritants for the whole of the EU.”

Çavusoğlu is set to visit Brussels on Jan. 21 for a meeting with the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Saturday’s teleconference between President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Borell, and Turksih President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was part of the effort to convey a message of de-escalation in the region, leading to more constructive cooperation, Stano said.

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