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EU welcomes restarted Turkey-Greece talks

European High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell in Brussels, Belgium, on 21 September 2020 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]
European High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell in Brussels, Belgium, on 21 September 2020 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

The European Union welcomes the resumed exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece, the bloc's foreign affairs chief said on Monday, Anadolu reports.

In a press conference following a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Josep Borrell called the restarted exploratory talks "an important step" towards "advancing and consolidating our dialogue and cooperation."

He also praised "the important messages and gestures of the Turkish authorities" to settle last year's tensions with the bloc.

"We reviewed all the issues that put a lot of troubles in our relations in 2020, and both of us agreed to overcome them," he said referring to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's visit last week to Brussels, the de facto EU capital.

The leaders promised to "look for a better way of sharing concerns and working together for a better neighborhood," Borrell explained.

"We agreed that both parts will keep this momentum to use it positively in order to try to reach agreements," he added.

The top EU diplomat also expressed hopes that UN-led Cyprus negotiations would resume by the end of February, the first such talks since 2017.

READ: Turkey and the Gulf states

After a five-year hiatus, Turkey and Greece on Monday resumed exploratory talks in order to resolve long-standing maritime disputes and other bilateral problems.

In the talks in Istanbul, top Turkish and Greek officials evaluated the issues from previous rounds, the current situation, recent developments, and possible steps to be taken.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara last year sent several drilling ships to explore for energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.

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