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Greece, US Foreign Ministers to Meet Over Tensions in Eastern Mediterranean

Greece, US Foreign Ministers to Meet Over Tensions in Eastern Mediterranean

Wednesday, 12 August, 2020 - 09:45
The Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis sails the Mediterranean Sea after leaving a port in Antalya, Turkey, Aug. 10. (Reuters)

The foreign ministers of Greece and the US will meet in Vienna on Friday to discuss tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek foreign ministry said, amid a dispute between Athens and Ankara over hydrocarbon resources.

The meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes days after Turkey dispatched the seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis to an area of sea claimed by both nations, saying it will operate there until Aug. 23.

This came as Turkey’s energy minister said Wednesday that seismic research vessel has begun surveying for energy resources in eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey’s seismic surveying ship, Oruc Reis, was “taking the x-ray of our seas,” Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said on Twitter.

He said the the vessel had also lowered 1,750 kilometres of seismic cables into the Mediterranean, The Associated Press reported.

Earlier, Turkey has said it plans to issue gas exploration and drilling licenses in the region, somewhere between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus, this month.

NATO allies Greece and Turkey vehemently disagree about their overlapping claims on hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, based on conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend in waters dotted with islands.

Turkey’s latest moves, days after Greece signed a maritime deal with Egypt which angered Ankara, have further raised tensions with its neighbor, ending a brief period of calm brokered by Germany.

Dendias urged Turkey on Tuesday to “immediately leave the Greek continental shelf” saying the country was determined to defend its sovereign rights. Athens has also called for an emergency EU meeting to address the issue.

According to Reuters, an extraordinary EU foreign ministers’ meeting has been set for Friday at 1300 GMT, and will be held via teleconference.

The US has appealed for a resumption of direct talks between Turkey and Greece, which Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said had been under way for two months until they were broken off last week.

Turkey said the deal with Egypt – which Greek diplomats said effectively nullified an accord between Turkey and the internationally recognized government of Libya – showed it could not trust Athens, and vowed to continue surveying waters that are also claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

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