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Greece pulls out of NATO-backed talks with Turkey

September 4, 2020 at 12:40 pm

NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg (L) speaks next to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a press conference after their meeting in Athens on 10 October 2019 [ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images]

Greece has pulled out of NATO-backed talks with Turkey, and is demanding that its neighbour should drop its “threats” in order for talks to go ahead in the effort to de-escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The decision was taken by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis this morning as he met with a senior member of China’s Communist Party who is visiting Athens. “Let threats go away so that the contacts can begin,” he said.

Mitsotakis added that his Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, would also be presenting details of Turkey’s “lawless activity” to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres later today, in an attempt to turn the international community against its rival. The Greek premier claims that Turkey is seeking to “alter” geography and is therefore “endangering” regional security and “undermining” international law.

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The news comes after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced yesterday that both Turkey and Greece had agreed to talks to resolve their dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean. The issue arose in particular after Greece and Egypt signed a maritime deal which Turkey claims infringes on its own territorial waters and limits them to its coastline.

The Greek Foreign Ministry backed up the Prime Minister’s comments, saying that the news of the talks yesterday “does not correspond to reality” and that “de-escalation will only take place with the immediate withdrawal of all Turkish vessels from the Greek continental shelf.” That announcement gave hope of revived negotiations, but shortly afterwards Greece denied that it had even agreed to join the talks.

The latest obstacle comes after months of Turkey calling for talks and a settlement to the dispute, and even temporarily ceasing its exploratory drilling operations. Greece, however, sabotaged the offers by militarising some of its islands in the Aegean Sea and attempting to curb Turkey’s maritime rights.

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