- Greece has denied there was a deal.
- Turkey and Greece claim ownership of the oil and gas resources of the Eastern Mediterranean and have escalated into a military conflict in recent days.
- France sent warships to the disputed area in the eastern Mediterranean in support of Greece.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Thursday that the leaders of Turkey and Greece had agreed to continue their NATO-led talks and meetings after meeting with him. Turkey and Greece claim ownership of the oil and gas resources of the Eastern Mediterranean and have escalated into a military conflict in recent days.
Stoltenberg announced that the two member states of the alliance had decided to hold a technical meeting under the auspices of NATO to establish a mechanism to prevent military conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece has denied there was a deal.
The European Union, while supporting Greece, has threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey. France even sent warships to the disputed area in the eastern Mediterranean in support of Greece.
Unlike France, however, NATO has taken a different stance and started mediating between the two member states. Stoltenberg said:
“Following my discussions with Greek and Turkish leaders, the two Allies have agreed to enter into technical talks at NATO to establish mechanisms for military de-confliction, to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
He added that “Greece and Turkey are valued Allies, and NATO is an important platform for consultations on all issues that affect our shared security.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement welcoming Stoltenberg’s “initiative,” and saying it was looking forward to Greece’s support. “We expect Greece to support the NATO Secretary General’s initiative,” the statement said in part.
“We would like to take this opportunity to remind that our country is ready for a dialogue with Greece, without preconditions, in order to find permanent solutions that are just and fair to all issues between us within the framework of international law.”
AFP, however, noted that Stoltenberg’s negotiations with Greece and Turkey were difficult, and that Greece had denied the NATO Secretary-General’s claim of mediation in the technical negotiations on the Eastern Mediterranean conflict.
A Greek official told the Associated Press, on condition of anonymity, “de-escalation would only be achieved with the immediate withdrawal of all Turkish ships from the Greek continental shelf.”
At the same time, apart from NATO, Germany, as the rotating president of the European Union, has also assumed the role of mediator between Turkey and Greece.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchanged views on the Eastern Mediterranean conflict via videoconference, Reuters reported on Thursday.
It is unprecedented for NATO participants to need “deconflict procedures” to deter conflicts or fire exchanges. Always in loggerheads, the Alliance also urged Russia to continue military dialogue, particularly between warplanes or ships, to prevent “incidents and accidents.”
However, Turkey has not come near to the conflict with one of its partners for the first time. “It is unacceptable for some countries to support Greece’s selfish and unjust stance,” Erdogan told Merkel. Erdogan stressed that Turkey wants a fair distribution of resources in the eastern Mediterranean and will defend Turkey’s national rights and interests.
Anatolia News Agency reports that Erdogan welcomes Angela Merkel’s efforts to help find a solution to the Eastern Mediterranean conflict.