President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Aug. 13 that the only solution to Turkey's dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean was through dialogue and negotiation, as the French armed forces ministry said it was sending two Rafale fighter jets and the naval frigate "Lafayette" to the region.
Turkey wants to resolve its dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean through dialogue, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Aug. 12, while vowing to defend Turkey's coastal interests. "We want to reach political solutions through peaceful means in line with international laws," Akar said.
A Greek court has released two Kurdish journalists detained in Athens. Both Kaplan and Mordeniz were detained despite having press cards, news portal Gazete Karınca reported on Aug. 9, adding that the journalists were taken to Acropolis police headquarters.
Turkey calls for cooperation to ease tensions in East Med after sending survey ship to disputed waters
Turkey announced on Aug. 10 that it dispatched a vessel named Oruç Reis to conduct a seismic survey in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean, a move that Greece said was "illegal." Turkey dismissed the Greek objections, with President Erdoğan saying that Ankara was ready to cooperate in finding "an acceptable formula that protects the rights of all."
Turkey could pause energy-exploration operations in the Eastern Mediterranean for a while pending talks with Greece, Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on July 28. Saying that there is a basis for dialogue between Ankara and Athens, Kalın noted, "We're ready to discuss all bilateral issues with Greece without pre-conditions upon the orders of our president."
Church bells across Greece tolled in mourning on July 24 as the first Islamic prayers in nine decades were held at Hagia Sophia in Turkey, marking the monument's conversion into a mosque. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Turkey a "troublemaker," and the Hagia Sophia conversion an "affront to civilisation of the 21st century."
The European Union wants to rebuild trust with Turkey, its top diplomat said on June 24. "I think we have to stand by our interest(s) and to engage on re-establishing trust," Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, said during a visit with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to a border region Greece shares with Turkey. "It is very clear we are determined to protect the external border of the European Union and to strongly support Greek sovereignty," Borrell said.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has called on Turkey "to not act as the neighborhood bully," as he commented on Ankara's energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. "Turkey is welcome to give up on its imperialistic pipeline dreams and cooperate with us as an equal and law-abiding partners – not as the neighborhood bully," he said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged Greece to open its borders to migrants, adding that he would meet European Union officials on March 9 to discuss migration. "We were hoping to get much more support from international community when it comes to refugees. I have a meeting with European Union officials tomorrow in Belgium. We will discuss these issues," Erdoğan said.