After months of heightened tension with Athens and Nicosia, the Turkish National Security Council insisted Thursday that it favors diplomacy and dialogue to resolve issues with the two countries in the wider region.
In a statement issued after a meeting chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the council “stressed once again that Turkey is in favor of diplomacy and dialogue to resolve the issues of the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.”
It noted, however, that Turkey “is determined to protect the rights and interests that arise from international law and international agreements.”
The statement came in the wake of the resumption of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey on Monday in Istanbul after a five-year hiatus.
Greece has insisted that the sole issue up for discussion is that pertaining to the demarcation of maritime zones between the two countries, while Turkey wants talks to be about a whole range of issues, from the demilitarization of Greek islands in the Aegean to Greece’s Muslim minority in Thrace.
Meanwhile this week it also emerged that an informal five-party summit on the Cyprus issue is to take place in the US under the auspices of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in early March.
The conference will be hosted at Greentree on Long Island, at a UN resort where other similar meetings have taken place in the past.
A bilateral meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, the first since the resumption of exploratory contacts, is also expected to take place on the sidelines of the five-party meeting.
Dendias will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina today to discuss, among others, the EU accession prospects of the Western Balkans, the Foreign Ministry said. The talks will also focus on bilateral cooperation, as well as wider regional developments.