Turkey and Greece have set up a military hotline to prevent clashes in the Eastern Mediterranean where they have been conflicting over energy resources, marking a step closer towards negotiations between the two.
In a statement NATO yesterday, to which both countries are members, announced: "Following a series of technical meetings between the military representatives of Greece and Turkey at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, a bilateral military de-confliction mechanism was established on Thursday."
According to the statement, the agreement "is designed to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean. It includes the creation of a hotline between Greece and Turkey, to facilitate de-confliction at sea or in the air."
The development was praised by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg who thanked both sides for their "constructive engagement". He stated: "This safety mechanism can help to create the space for diplomatic efforts to address the underlying dispute and we stand ready to develop it further," Stoltenberg said.
I welcome the establishment of a military de-confliction mechanism @NATO to reduce the risk of incidents & accidents in the #EastMed. This was achieved through the constructive engagement of Greece and Turkey. I remain in close contact with both Allies. https://t.co/yoxW04L0Cp
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) October 1, 2020
It comes after the increased tensions and disputes between the two NATO member states over the past year, as Turkey sought to pursue its maritime and energy rights in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece was opposed to Turkey's aims, and – along with southern Cyprus, Egypt, and France – attempted to prevent Turkey from doing so.
Although Ankara had been constantly calling for talks and a settlement to the dispute, even temporarily ceasing its drilling operation, Greece militarised some of its islands in the Aegean Sea and by attempting to limit Turkey's territorial waters by signing a maritime deal with Egypt. It also pulled out of NATO-backed talks with Turkey a month ago.
This hotline and agreement to talks between Turkey and Greece, are seen as a step towards further negotiations between the two.