Athens hopes Erdoğan talks will ease maritime frictions with Turkey

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday in an attempt to ease tensions over energy exploration and Ankara’s newly signed deal with Libya on Mediterranean maritime zones, Reuters said.

Mitsotakis and Erdoğan will meet on the sidelines of a NATO alliance summit in London, Greek spokesman Stelios Petsas said.

“We hope that the meeting tomorrow will be a meeting where it will be possible to pave the way for a new form of respect for international law and for the two countries’ good neighborly relations,” Petsas told reporters.

Ankara and Libya’s internationally recognized government signed a deal on Nov. 27 denoting new maritime boundaries between the two nations. The area cuts across a zone currently claimed by Greece and the divided island of Cyprus, where plans are in the works for a future gas pipeline to link eastern Mediterranean gas fields with European markets.

The deal could also further complicate an ongoing dispute over natural resources in the region that are fuelling tensions between Turkey and Cyprus.

Turkey has refused to acknowledge Cyprus as a legitimate state since the Turkish invasion and division of the island into Greek and Turkish Cypriot parts in the mid-1970s. Turkey, the only country that recognises the breakaway state in the north of the island, maintains that Turkish Cypriots should receive their fair share from the potentially rich hydrocarbon resources near the island.

Turkey also has territorial claims that overlap with Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, and Ankara has stepped up its efforts for gas drilling in the seas around the island.