The situation in the eastern Mediterranean is tense: Turkey once again extended the activities of the research vessel “Oruc Reis”, and both Turkey and Greece have announced military exercises. In order to speak to both sides, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas set off today for Athens and Ankara. He issued the following statement today (25 August) before his departure:
Turkey and Greece are our NATO allies. The contentious issues surrounding the natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean can only be resolved in line with international law and through a sincere dialogue. The tensions are placing a strain on relations between the EU and Turkey. What is more, further escalation can only be detrimental to all sides, particularly those directly affected on the ground.
The channels of communication between Greece and Turkey must now be enhanced rather than closed. In order to achieve that, we now need steps to finally reduce the tensions as well as the start of direct talks rather than renewed provocation. We want to do whatever we can to support this.
During the last few months, Josep Borrell has conducted a crucial dialogue process with Turkey, which we wholeheartedly back.
At the EU Foreign Ministers Meeting in Berlin this week, we will discuss our relations with Turkey, and Greece’s voice will carry particular weight. For this reason, too, I am keen to once again have direct talks in the region.