Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sept. 16 held a video conference and discussed the escalating tension in the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to a statement by the Turkish presidency, Erdoğan told Merkel during the meeting that disputes could be resolved as long as there is a “fair” approach to the issue.
Erdoğan said that the dispute “could be resolved through negotiations… provided that a constructive approach, based on fairness, prevails,” the presidency said.
Erdoğan “emphasized that he will continue to implement a decisive and active policy with regard to Turkey’s rights,” his office said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, head of the National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also attended the meeting.
Greek and Turkish battleships have been gathering in the Eastern Mediterranean since Erdoğan ordered a research vessel to the region to survey for gas and oil.
Greece says the seabed off the coast of Crete and other islands in the region are its own to exploit, a claim Turkey has repeatedly refused, saying the islands are not entitled to what is known as an exclusive economic zone.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu said Erdoğan told Merkel that the docking of Turkey’s Oruç Reis seismic survey vessel for maintenance does not mean its operations in the Eastern Mediterranean are done.
Oruç Reis returned to waters near Turkey’s southern province of Antalya on Sept. 13 for what Ankara called routine maintenance, a move Greece said was a positive first step in easing tensions.
Çavuşoğlu told an interview with broadcaster CNN Türk that Oruç Reis’ maintenance may take “a few weeks,” according to the energy ministry. “Once maintenance is finished, we will continue our operations with determination,” he said.