NATO chief talks with Greece, Turkey to help reduce tensions

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg held phones calls with Greece and Turkey’s foreign ministers on Thursday in an effort to reduce tensions.

The Greek foreign ministry said Stoltenberg and Nikos Dendias had discussed “developments in the eastern Mediterranean and Turkish illegal activities in the region”.

On Wednesday, Dendias accused Turkey of creating an “explosive situation” through its activities to explore for hydrocarbons in waters claimed by Greece.

Turkey recently extended a navigational advisory notice, known as a Navtex, for research vessel Oruç Reis, allowing the drillship to continue operations off the coast of Cyprus until No. 29.

Both Greece and Cyprus claim the activities violate their maritime borders. However, Turkey insists it has the approval of the Turkish-Cypriot administration, which controls the northern part of the divided island but is not recognised by the international community.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said he had also discussed the issue in a call with Stoltenberg ahead of a NATO meeting of foreign ministers scheduled for next week.

Tensions are running high ahead of the meeting after German soldiers intercepted a Turkish cargo ship on Sunday suspected of breaking a European Union arms embargo on Libya. Both NATO allies have since accused the other of violating international agreements. 

Çavuşoğlu said he had reiterated to NATO’s general secretary that the forceful boarding was “unacceptable”.

Recent developments in Afghanistan, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh had also been on the agenda, he said.