NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey and Greece had started technical talks as a result of his initiative aiming to de-escalate tension in the eastern Mediterranean despite a denial from Greece.
At a press conference he held in Brussels, the NATO chief said the talks aimed at reducing the risk of conflict or accidents amid military tensions between the allies over offshore energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. No agreement had been reached from the military-level talks, he said.
On late Sept. 3, Stoltenberg said Turkey and Greece agreed to launch technical talks, but it was quickly denied by Athens, which said, “Published information, claiming Greece and Turkey have agreed to hold so-called ‘technical talks’ on de-escalating tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, do not correspond to reality.”
However, NATO officials insisted that the first talks between the two NATO allies took place on Sept. 3 in Brussels.
“As long as we have so many ships in the eastern Mediterranean, we believe that there is a need to have technical talks on how to develop enhanced mechanisms for de-confliction,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “No agreement has been reached yet, but the talks have started.”
Stoltenberg underlined that the military-level talks are only aimed at avoiding any incident between Greece and Turkey and are very distinct from the diplomatic efforts to find a long-term solution to the standoff.
“These are technical talks rather than negotiations on the underlying dispute between Greece and Turkey and as such, they are meant to complement and not replace the efforts led by Germany for political mediation towards de-escalation,” he said.
In Athens, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis informed that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was heading to New York to meet U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to deliver a letter from him to Guterres detailing about what he said was Turkey”s illegal activity in the region.
He said that Greece supports good neighborly relations and he noted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said he is open to dialogue. “And to this, I reply with six clear words: The provocations stop, the dialogue starts,” Mitsotakis said.