Greece foreign minister plans rare Turkey visit: Ankara

By: AFP      Published: 09:23 PM, 17 Mar, 2021
Greece foreign minister plans rare Turkey visit: Ankara

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will pay a rare trip to Ankara next month as talks intensify on the two countries' maritime border disputes, his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.

Dendias will visit on April 14 to try to arrange a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Cavusoglu said, adding that he would then pay a return visit to Athens.

"Dendias has been a close friend of mine for many years," Cavusoglu told reporters.

His comments came a day after Turkey and Greece concluded a new round of talks in Athens about their conflicting eastern Mediterranean border and energy claims.

The talks resumed after a nearly five-year hiatus in Istanbul in January, but both sides have remained tight-lipped about any progress.

Official contacts are rare between the two members of the NATO defence alliance.

Dendias last paid a personal visit to Istanbul in late 2019 and Erdogan met Mitsotakis at the United Nations earlier that year when he was serving as Greece's foreign minister.

Both NATO and the European Union have put pressure on the two countries to resume contacts after their gunboats collided while Greece was shadowing a Turkish energy exploration mission in disputed waters last August.

Turkey and Greece both cite a range of decades-old treaties and international agreements to support their conflicting territorial claims.

The dispute intensified following the discover of large natural gas deposits in waters around the divided island of Cyprus in the past decade.

Turkey occupied the northern third of Cyprus in response to a coup orchestrated by the military junta in Athens aimed at annexing the island to Greece in 1974.

After the latest round of talks Tuesday, Erdogan said it was "out of the question for us to make any concessions".