Venizelos extends invite to Turkey at start of visit

Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos arrived in Ankara Friday night for two days of talks. Ahead of his visit he sought to make it clear that Greece is prepared to discuss maritime issues with Turkey regardless of its recent agreement with Cyprus and Egypt.

Venizelos is due to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during his visit but before traveling stressed that the recent Cairo Declaration, with which Greece, Cyprus and Egypt agreed to closer cooperation, was not “aggressive toward Turkey.”

“Our invitation toward Turkey to take part in these type of trilateral or multilateral cooperations is always open and honest,” said Venizelos.

He also denied that the agreement was an indication Greece is rushing to demarcate its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“This is not the case,” said the foreign minister. “There is an agreement between Cyprus and Egypt for the demarcation of maritime borders but there is no such agreement between Greece and Egypt yet.”

Venizelos also described the presence of the Turkish research vessel Barbaros in the Cypriot EEZ as “illegal” and said that the Cyprus issue would always be the “key factor” in relations between Athens and Ankara.

Venizelos is due to meet Cavusoglu Saturday morning, followed by a trip to the presidential palace for talks with Erdogan.

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