Egypt’s foreign minister is in Athens to discuss the ongoing territorial dispute between the two countries and Turkey.
Following the discovery of significant amounts of oil and gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cairo and Athens signed a maritime deal which Ankara is opposed to.
“It is an agreement that contributes to stability and the exploitation of resources in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Greece’s foreign affairs minister said in a statement after the meeting with Sameh Shoukry.
“In other words, it is exactly the opposite of Turkey’s null and illegal memorandum with the Government in Tripoli, which attempted to arbitrarily create contiguities that defy the map and geography.”
In August, Turkey and Libya declared the delimitation of maritime jurisdictions in the East Med “null and void” and said it overlooked their rights and continental shelves.
Adding to tension between the two countries is Turkey’s decision last year to sign a maritime delimitation agreement with Libya’s internationally backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and one on military cooperation.
Turkey has been carrying out exploration and drilling activities in Greece’s maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean for the last year.
Greece and Greece Cyprus have threatened to arrest the crew of their ships, but Turkey believes that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus also has the right to resources there.
Earlier this week, a Turkish drilling ship returned to shore to ease tensions in the East Med for the first time in more than a month.
The Turkish defence minister stressed that Ankara was not “giving up our rights there,” whilst Greece said it was a “positive sign”.
During a press conference on Sunday, Shoukry accused Turkey of adopting expansionist policies in Libya, Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean.
It was a response to the Turkish president’s adviser, Yassin Aktay, who called for overcoming political differences between the Turkish and Egyptian presidents.
In his statement, Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Dendios mentioned Turkey’s “recent escalation in hostile actions and rhetoric” which “often targets Egypt and President Sisi personally.”
“I also stressed that Ankara’s calls for dialogue cannot be taken as anything more than mere pretext when accompanied by threats against Greece and other countries.”
He said that Greece and Egypt are making efforts to consolidate peace.
“We are certain that these steps will contribute to turning the Middle East into a space of peace and prosperity.”