Greek, Turk ministers agree to start talks on Aegean issues

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday agreed to intensify exploratory talks on the thorny issue of the continental shelf, to promote confidence-building measures and to back a new round of peace talks on Cyprus.

After talks in Ankara, the two diplomats expressed their intention to boost trust and foster bilateral ties. “It is our shared desire to resolve the problems in the Aegean… and to reduce tensions and disputes regarding the character of a number of regions,” Kotzias said. The two men also discussed the new momentum on Cyprus peace talks which have been stalled since October but are to resume on May 15. Kotzias said the new peace drive was a “window of opportunity” to reunify the divided island. “We are facing a window of opportunity for Cyprus, as American diplomats say,” Kotzias told a press conference. Cavusoglu, for his part, said there are reasons to be “optimistic.”

Kotzias also met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and highlighted the need for both Greece and Turkey to work on resolving differences. According to sources, Erdogan referred to the rights of the Muslim minority in Thrace, prompting Kotzias to respond that those rights are fully protected by the Greek state.

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