NEWS

UK defense secretary points to effort to ease Greek-Turkish tension

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Mounting tension between Greece and Turkey over surveys for gas and oil in the Eastern Mediterranean was reportedly the subject of a recent telephone conversation between Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and his British counterpart.

According to sources, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace expressed London’s support for Greek concerns over Ankara’s increasingly aggressive behavior in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean and conveyed his intention to communicate these concerns to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

“The extended presence of Turkish ships makes a de-escalation impossible, raises the risk of an accident and has a destabilizing effect in the broader region,” Panagiotopoulos was quoted by sources as telling Wallace.

The Greek defense minister also reiterated Greece’s readiness to engage in a dialogue with Turkey, “within the framework of the rules of international law” and only on the condition that “Turkey’s warships and research vessel are withdrawn from the area of the Greek continental shelf.”

Wallace reportedly said that Britain will strive to achieve a “de-escalation and conditions for dialogue,” while stressing that Greece’s concerns are also shared by the European Union.

The British defense secretary is also said to have accepted an invitation from Panagiotopoulos for an official visit to Greece.