Turkey ready for talks with Greece without preconditions

Turkey's Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said Ankara is ready for talks with Greece without preconditions to discuss issues in the eastern Mediterranean, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.

"In line with the instructions of our President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan], we are ready to discuss all issues; the Aegean, continental shelf, islands, airspace, research and screening efforts, and eastern Mediterranean along with other bilateral matters with Greece without any precondition," Anadolu cited Kalın as saying during a programme aired by CNN Türk.

Tensions have been rising recently between Turkey and Greece due to competing claims over hydrocarbon exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Kalın said Greece is an important neighbour and that regional disputes were triggered by loopholes in maritime law regarding Aegean islands, continental shelves, and exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean.

"There is no international legal definition regarding these," he said, adding that Turkish and Greek Cypriots should start negotiations to solve their disputes. 

Kalın said Erdoğan had instructed the authorities to pause seismic research activities in the eastern Mediterranean to see how negotiations go between countries in the region. 

However, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Tuesday that Turkey had issued a new advisory known as a Navtex, blocking off parts of the eastern Mediterranean, some of which overlap with Cyprus’ EEZ, hours after Ankara said it would pause its oil and gas exploration activities.