Greece said on Tuesday it will not hold talks with Turkey on defusing tension in the eastern Mediterranean unless Ankara withdraws an energy research ship from contested areas, as Berlin called on Ankara to end a “cycle of detente and provocation” in the Mediterranean
A dispute over gas exploration saw Greece and Turkey stage rival military drills in August in strategic waters between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.
The Turkish navy said the Oruc Reis ship will restart activities in the region, including the south of Kastellorizo, until October 22 in a message sent to the maritime alert system NAVTEX late on Sunday.
“(Greece) will not sit at the table for exploratory talks while the Oruc Reis and escorting warships are out there,” Minister of State George Gerapetritis told Parapolitika radio.
He said Athens would “emphatically” raise the dispute at a European council meeting starting Thursday.
Greece’s government is expected to discuss the issue with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who is visiting later Tuesday.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Maas called on Turkey to end a “cycle of detente and provocation” in the Mediterranean.
“If there should be renewed Turkish gas exploration in the more controversial sea areas in the eastern Mediterranean, this would be a serious setback for efforts to de-escalate,” the German FM said ahead of a trip to Cyprus and Greece.
“Ankara must end the cycle of detente and provocation if the government is interested in talks,” said Maas, whose country heads the rotating presidency of the European Union.