Europe and Turkey have given themselves a reprieve in their dispute over the Eastern Mediterranean, but no solution to the conflict is in sight. While Turkey and Greece want to resume exploratory talks after a four-year hiatus, the positions of the two countries remain irreconcilable.
Following a video conference by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday, Turkey and Greece announced that they cut off their direct talks in 2016 over the conflicting territorial claims in the Aegean and the Mediterranean wanted to continue. Michel postponed the EU summit on Turkey planned for this week to October 1 because he went into quarantine after the corona infection of a security officer in his area.
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The delay will create time for new negotiations between the top politicians of the countries concerned. A conversation between Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday evening added to the relaxation. According to the Turkish presidential office, there was a video meeting between Erdogan and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday; A meeting was scheduled for tonight between the Turkish President and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Erdogan’s adviser hopes “common sense” will prevail
Given the planned new negotiations between Ankara and Athens, the EU is unlikely to comply with Greece’s and Cyprus’ demands for sanctions against Ankara at the summit next week. Even before the new talks were announced, some EU countries, such as Germany, spoke out against sanctions because they hope for a negotiated solution. Erdogan would achieve an important intermediate goal if the EU refrains from punitive measures. His government wants to avoid sanctions from the EU – their country’s largest trading partner – because the country’s Turkish economy is already in deep crisis.
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Erdogan’s foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin told German journalists in Ankara that he hoped “common sense” would prevail in the Mediterranean dispute. Turkey is ready to negotiate. Erdogan could speak to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis soon, Kalin said.
However, rapid progress is not expected. Between 2002 and 2016, Turkey and Greece attempted a total of 60 rounds of negotiations unsuccessfully to resolve their differences in the demarcation of the border between the Turkish mainland and the Greek islands in the Aegean and the Mediterranean.