NATO-brokered talks between Turkey, Greece to recommence
Turkish and Greek military representatives will meet in NATO-brokered talks for the third time to discuss a de-conflicting mechanism that would prevent an incident between the alliance members over a territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean, Kathimerini reported on Tuesday.
One of the tools for deconfliction mentioned in a NATO blueprint presented to both sides concerns a 24-hour direct line of communication between the Greek and Turkish militaries via a safe NATO channel, the Greek newspaper said.
The half-page blueprint calls for the two sides to recommit to fundamental NATO principles and to Article 1 of the alliance’s charter, which concerns the peaceful resolution of differences between members, without the threat or use of force, it said, citing sources. It also calls for both sides to uphold the principles outlined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Law of the Sea.
A previous meeting on Sept. 3, in which Turkey and Greece submitted their initial reactions to the framework of dialogue to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, lasted only five minutes, Kathimerini said, citing diplomatic sources.
Tuesday’s meeting was arranged following the departure of the Oruç Reis, a Turkish research vessel at the heart of the dispute between Turkey and Greece, from an area south of Kastellorizo, which Athens had set as a condition for any talks to recommence. Turkish senior officials said the ship was undergoing routine maintenance and resupplying operations, and it would soon return to its surveying activities in the eastern Mediterranean.
Political and military tensions between the NATO allies have intensified after Ankara sent the Oruç Reis research vessel escorted by Turkish warships to a contested area between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete on Aug. 10.
Athens responded to the move by sending naval and air units to shadow Oruç Reis and conducting military exercises with Cyprus and France in the area – creating a standoff at risk of escalating into a direct confrontation.
The United States and Germany have taken mediation roles to de-escalate the dispute.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo discussed the eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus in a phone call, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Monday, citing diplomatic sources.