Turkey-Greece talks held in 'very positive' atmosphere, Ankara says

Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu has said that exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece, which resumed on Jan. 25 after five years of hiatus, were held in a “very positive” atmosphere. He said the next talks will be held in Greece and its date will be announced later.

This photo shows Turkish research vessel Oruç Reis having anchored off the coast of Antalya on the Mediterranean.

Duvar English – Reuters

Bilateral talks between Turkey and Greece to resolve long-standing maritime disputes, which resumed on Jan. 25 after a five-year hiatus, were held in a "very positive" atmosphere, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 27.

The neighboring NATO members held 60 rounds of talks from 2002 to 2016 to address disagreements over energy rights, claims to Mediterranean waters, air space and the status of some Aegean islands, but with little progress.

Talks resumed on Jan. 25 in Istanbul after months of tension, and pressure from the European Union.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney, Çavuşoğlu said the talks had focused on "whatever was discussed in the first 60 rounds," and urged Greece to refrain from "provocations" at a time when Ankara was trying to establish a positive agenda with the EU.

He said the next talks will be held in Greece and its date will be announced later.

Plans for resuming talks foundered last year over Turkey's deployment of a seismic survey vessel in contested waters and disagreements over which topics they would cover. The vessel was withdrawn to Turkish shores last year.

Ankara and Athens agreed this month to resume the talks in Istanbul, in a test of Turkey's hopes of improving its relations with the EU. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week Greece would approach the talks with optimism but "zero naivety," while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he hoped the resumption of talks would herald a new era.

Analysts have said an immediate breakthrough is unlikely given decades-old policy differences, but that resuming dialogue is an important first step after EU pressure on Ankara.