Turkey, Greece to resume talks over Mediterranean Sea claims on Jan 25

Turkey and Greece will resume suspended exploratory talks over territorial claims in the Mediterranean Sea and other issues on Jan. 25 in Istanbul, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 11, hours after Ankara invited Athens for talks. Both Ankara and Athens said earlier on Jan. 11 they were willing to resume the exploratory talks, which were suspended in 2016 after 60 rounds of talks in 14 years.

Duvar English - Reuters

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 11 that Ankara and Athens will resume suspended exploratory talks over territorial claims in the Mediterranean Sea and other issues on Jan. 25 in Istanbul. 

"The 61st round of the Exploratory Talks will take place in Istanbul on 25 January 2021," the Foreign Ministry said in its statement, without elaborating.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier said that Turkey had invited Greece to attend new talks. 

Ankara and Athens are at odds over the extent of their continental shelves in the Mediterranean, offshore energy rights, air space and the status of some islands.

They held 60 rounds of talks between 2002-2016.

Greece rejected talks planned for last year after Turkey deployed a seismic exploration vessel to disputed waters, but the Oruç Reis has since moved to Turkish shores.

"So Greece has no excuse right now," Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the talks would cover all issues between the two neighbors who are both members of the NATO transatlantic alliance.

"As Turkey, we want to make an official invitation. As of today, we urge Greece to start exploratory talks, with the first meeting to be held within the month of January," Çavuşoğlu said.

Under pressure from some European Union (EU) members including Germany, Greece had indicated it could resume talks on Jan. 11, the Turkish minister added.

Çavuşoğlu said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who was in Ankara last week, had tried to bring him together with Greek counterpart Niko Dendias in Tirana, but that Dendias had refused at the time over the Oruç Reis. He said he was ready to meet Dendias in Tirana after the resumption of exploratory talks.

The Greek Foreign Ministry, however, initially said that it has not yet received an invitation from Turkey to resume exploratory talks on their conflicting territorial claims in the Mediterranean but would be willing to discuss issues including the continental shelf.

"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," foreign ministry spokesman Alexandros Papaioannou said in a statement.