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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Greece: Contact with Turkey restarted over East Med crisis

The EU has threatened sanctions against Turkey over the dispute [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2020

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Athens has resumed high-level political contacts with neighbour and rival Turkey after Ankara withdrew a research vessel from Greek-claimed waters.
Greece says it has resumed high-level political contacts with neighbouring Turkey to try and de-escalate a dispute over offshore energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Stelios Petsas, the Greek government spokesman, said on Thursday that direct contacts had restarted after Turkey pulled back a warship-escorted survey vessel at the weekend from an area where Greece claims exclusive rights to potential undersea gas or oil deposits.

The discussions, Petsas said, were taking place between aides to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Allies of the two NATO members have warned that the standoff and rival military build-ups in the area — between Greek islands, Turkey's southern coast, and Cyprus — had increased the risk of a military confrontation.

The European Union is due to consider a list of potential sanctions against Turkey next week. EU officials say the dispute can only be resolved through negotiations.

Petsas said that direct communication between Mitsotakis and Erdogan was possible ahead of the September 24-25 EU meetings.

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