Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said relations with the European Union are in a “more positive place” but continued to accuse Greece of raising obstacles to exploratory talks planned for later this month.
In a joint press conference in Ankara with his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, Cavusoglu said that the 61st round of exploratory talks between Athens and Ankara would address the same issues as the “last 60 rounds,” in what seems to be a fresh rejection of Greece’s position that maritime border delineation is the only issue up for discussion.
“If Greece insists on not cooperating, then the responsibility of any tension between the two countries will be on Athens’ shoulders,” he said.
Maas said that the issues dividing Turkey and EU members Greece and Cyprus are “complex but not unsolvable,” and expressed confidence that the two sides will be able to overcome what he described as a “difficult situation” in 2020. Berlin, he said, is ready to help the negotiation process between Turkey and Greece if asked to do so.
“The announcement by Turkey and Greece that they will resume the exploratory talks, which had been interrupted since 2016, is an important first step,” Maas said.
“During Germany’s EU presidency over the previous six months, we made significant efforts for the resumption of direct talks between Turkey and Greece. The start of these talks now offers a real chance of permanent de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the German foreign minister added.
Cavusoglu insisted that Turkey is ready to start talks with Greece on January 25, but accused Athens of torpedoing the process.
“Despite our offer of dialogue, Greece continues its attempt to provoke Turkey,” said Cavusoglu, lamenting comments made by Greece’s Archbishop Ieronymos, who told Open TV in an interview on Saturday that “Islam is not a religion but a political party.”
“They continually carry out military maneuvers or announce them with Navtexes and then they don’t carry them out,” he added.