Greece and Turkey inching towards negotiations
15 September 2020

After weeks of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, Greece and Turkey might considers starting talks to resolve a long-standing maritime border dispute. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed the return of a Turkish survey ship to port Sunday from a disputed maritime area. Mitsotakis said he was ready to try to restart long-stalled talks, signaling that the two countries could be inching toward negotiations. Talks between Greece and Turkey over the continental shelf and exclusive economic zone rights were last held in 2016. On its part, Turkey on Sunday called back the Oruc Reis research ship to Antalya for the first time in a month. It said the ship was going back to port for maintenance.

"This is a positive first step," Mitsotakis told reporters in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. "If we see signs of de-escalation in practice ... I will be the first to sit at the negotiating table."

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Sunday that Turkey supports peace and dialogue "if our wishes and demands are fulfilled."

Greece, however, announced a major new defense program that includes plans to buy 18 French-made Rafale fighter planes. Greece also plans to buy four navy helicopters and four new frigates, and to add 15,000 military personnel to its armed forces by 2025. 

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photo: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (archive picture)