Photo: Oruc Reis seismic vessel; Source: General Directorate of the Mineral Research & Exploration of Turkey

Turkey and Greece to resume talks over disputed waters

Turkey and Greece will continue exploratory talks over territorial claims in the Mediterranean Sea that almost brought the two to blows during 2020.

According to an article by Reuters, the discussions will continue on 25 January 2021. Until now, the two countries held mind-blowing 60 rounds of talks between 2002 and 2016.

Plans to resume talks last year were foundered after a disagreement over Turkish seismic exploration vessel Oruc Reis was deployed in disputed waters. The ship has since returned to Turkish shores.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the 61st round of the exploratory talks would take place in Istanbul on 25 January 2021 with no other details being provided.

Also, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu invited Greece for talks by the end of January on all issues, adding that Athens “has no excuse” since the Oruc Reis returned to Turkey – which was a condition set by Greece for any talks to happen.

The main bones of contention between the Turkey and Greece is the extent of their continental shelves in the Mediterranean, energy rights in the region, air space, and the status of some islands in the Aegean Sea.

The dispute nearly lead to a conflict when Turkish and Greek warships collided in August as they followed the Oruc Reis during a seismic survey for oil and gas west of Cyprus.

Reuters added previous attempts to resume the talks had been complicated by what both sides were prepared to discuss. The Greek Foreign Ministry said on Monday it was willing to talk about the demarcation of an Exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf.

Turkey claimed that all issues between the NATO members should be discussed, saying that was the format before the talks were suspended in 2016.

It is worth noting that Cavusoglu agreed to meet with Greek Foreign Minister Niko Dendias in Tirana after Albania’s offered to mediate. Some European Union members, including Germany, which has mediated the dispute thus far, had already urged Greece to engage with Turkey.