German mediation to continue with Maas visit
Germany’s mediatory effort between Athens and Ankara will continue this Tuesday with visits to Athens and Ankara by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for contacts with his counterparts, in an effort to start anew the discussions between the two sides.
The coming week is considered particularly critical for the possibility of progress in the effort for a resumption of a Greek-Turkish dialogue, as the informal meeting of European Union foreign ministers will also take place on Thursday and Friday, where Athens and Nicosia will push for sanctions if Ankara continues its strategy of aggression.
A decision is also expected on Tuesday as to whether the next meeting of the three advisers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Jan Hecker, Eleni Sourani and Ibrahim Kalin, respectively) will probably take place on August 28 in order to open the prospects for the resumption of exploratory contacts.
Meanwhile on Friday, Erdogan announced the discovery of a 320 billion cubic meter gas field deposit at a depth of more than 3,000 meters in the Black Sea. However, Erdogan’s statements did not seem to convince international markets, nor did it strengthen the position of the Turkish lira, which again showed a drop.
Erdogan spoke of “the largest gas field in the history of Turkey,” but when compared to others in the wider Eastern Mediterranean basin (Egypt’s Zohr, with about 850 bcm, or Israel’s Leviathan, of about 450 bcm), it is seen as a rather medium-sized find.
Erdogan also announced that Ankara will speed up research in the Eastern Mediterranean and “issue more permits for research” in the region.
“We are being vindicated for what are we doing in the Mediterranean,” he said, adding that the EU “is two-faced” over its support to Greece.
“If something happens in the Mediterranean, it will be bad for Europe. What Europe is doing will not help Greece; it will simply reduce Europe’s reputation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Greek Foreign Ministry denounced as “completely reprehensible” the decision by Turkish authorities to re-convert the Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Savior in Chora into a mosque.
Also on Friday, four F-16 fighter jets of the United Arab Emirates Air Force arrived at the Souda Air Base in Crete.
In the coming days, they will carry out joint training with the Hellenic Armed Forces. Their arrival was seen as a message to Ankara regarding its activities in Libya.