US, Germany urge Greece, Turkey to talk

US, Germany urge Greece, Turkey to talk

Ahead of next week’s European Union summit, Greece and Turkey are being prompted by the US and Germany to engage in dialogue.

In particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would like to see the two countries engaging in a dialogue before the crucial summit which will discuss recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Merkel spoke on the phone on Tuesday with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and she reportedly agreed with his consistent position that dialogue can only start if Ankara stops provocations and makes practical moves to de-escalate tension. Mitsotakis insisted in their call, the second in three days, that the de-escalation with the departure of Turkey’s Oruc Reis research vessel last Saturday must not be an artificial one, and done solely so that Ankara avoids threatened EU sanctions.

Athens is reportedly leaning toward initial consultations at the level of respective government advisers, like those in August in Berlin. The thinking is that if Turkey is not bluffing and matters are indeed moving toward de-escalation, then a meeting could follow at the foreign ministers level.

Meanwhile, in what was seen as an exhortation to Athens and Ankara, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday urged all those involved in the ongoing East Med energy and maritime rights dispute to “reduce the tension” and the “military footprint” in the region. In an interview with France Inter radio, Pompeo said all parties must resolve their differences according to international conventions, without the use of military power “but through the normal mechanisms of the resolution of international disputes.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Mitsotakis said after meeting European Council President Charles Michel that “Turkey still has time – before and after the summit – to continue the first encouraging step to get out of this crisis.”

“De-escalation in the Aegean and the Mediterranean must have continuity and consistency,” he said. He also said Greece is ready for direct exploratory contacts with Turkey, but only on their sole major difference, namely the delimitation of maritime zones.

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