NewsLocalGreece and Turkey agree to continue exploratory talks in Istanbul

Greece and Turkey agree to continue exploratory talks in Istanbul

Greece and Turkey concluded exploratory talks in Athens after nearly four hours and the two sides agreed late on Tuesday to hold another round in Istanbul.

At the same time, a separate meeting between Greek and Turkish officials outside the exploratory framework will take place on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The two countries seek common ground on a long-standing maritime boundaries dispute before a European Union summit at the end of this month.

The NATO allies are at odds over issues such as competing claims over their respective continental shelves, maritime rights and air space in the Mediterranean.

As well as energy issues, Turkish-occupied Cyprus and the status of some islands in the Aegean.

Turkey this week continued provocations, this time ‘protesting’  against a deal between Greece, Israel and Cyprus for an undersea cable linking their electricity grids.

Ankara claims the planned route for the cable runs through Turkey’s continental shelf.

The exploratory talks are meant to lay the ground for formal negotiations but the two countries have made little progress in more than 60 rounds of meetings since 2002 and cannot even agree on what issues to discuss.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said earlier he was willing to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu but any meeting “must take place in the right atmosphere”.

Athens has also said it will discuss only the demarcation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, not issues of “national sovereignty”.

Ankara, which hopes to improve its relations with the European Union, which has supported EU-members Greece and Cyprus threatened sanctions on Turkey.

The EU has made clear it wants all issues, including air space and the Aegean islands, on the table.

European leaders are expected to discuss the eastern Mediterranean at a meeting on March 25-26.

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