BFF-48 NATO hails ‘good progress’ in Greek-Turkish talks

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BFF-48

NATO-TURKEY-GREECE-POLITICS-ENERGY

NATO hails ‘good progress’ in Greek-Turkish talks

BRUSSELS, Sept 23, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – NATO said on Wednesday there had
been “good progress” in military talks between Greece and Turkey aimed
at avoiding clashes in the eastern Mediterranean, the scene of a
dispute over energy resources.

Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said military officials from the two
sides had held half a dozen meetings at NATO headquarters to try to
agree a mechanism to prevent accidental air or sea clashes.

“These meetings are ongoing and good progress has been made,”
Stoltenberg said after talks in Brussels with the Spanish Prime
Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“These are technical military talks. They complement the diplomatic
efforts led by Germany to resolve the underlying dispute.”

Over recent months a standoff over gas exploration in contested
waters has led to a dramatic ramping-up of tensions, with the two NATO
members staging rival war games, stoking fears that conflict could
erupt, perhaps by accident.

But the tone has softened this week, with Athens and Ankara on
Tuesday agreeing to begin exploratory talks to resolve the dispute.

Stoltenberg welcomed the move, while Sanchez described it as “a
significant step in the good direction”.

Later Stoltenberg held phone talks with Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, stressing the need for dialogue and de-escalation,
NATO said in a statement.

He will hold phone talks on Thursday with Greek Prime Minister
Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The EU has stood by Greece and Cyprus — which is also in dispute
with Ankara — and threatened sanctions if Turkey does not stop
sending research vessels backed up by warships to disputed sites.

The bloc’s leaders will debate the crisis when they meet for a
summit in Brussels next week.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2254hrs