Secretary of State visits Greece amid growing tensions in the region over mutual claims between Ankara and Athens
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday called on NATO allies Greece and Turkey to continue negotiations to resolve the dispute over maritime boundaries as soon as possible.
Greece and Turkey, which are in dispute on a number of issues, agreed to resume preliminary negotiations on maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean “in the future”, but did not announce a date.
“We hope that these negotiations can continue in a serious way,” Pompeo said after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Crete. “(We) encourage them to resume discussions on these issues as soon as possible.”.
Pompeo arrives in Greece on two-day visit amid rising regional tensions over energy disputes.
Tensions escalated last month after Ankara sent its seismic vessel Oruc Reis into disputed waters, escorted by gunboats, to map out possible oil and gas drilling..
Turkey subsequently recalled the ship, saying it would allow diplomatic efforts ahead of the October 1-2 EU summit, which will discuss the maritime dispute and possible sanctions against Ankara. Cyprus, Greece and France insist on the introduction of sanctions.
Cyprus, an EU member, has refused to support sanctions against Belarus unless tougher measures are taken against Turkey.
Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean are making claims to the region’s maritime zones in the hope of finding oil or gas there, revealing long-standing and sometimes forgotten conflicts.
Greece and Egypt signed a pact on the definition of maritime boundaries between them, which caused discontent among Turkey, which says that the agreement means encroachment on its territory. And the zoning agreement between Turkey and the internationally recognized government of Libya has displeased Greece.
Pompeo, who visited the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece on Monday, said the eastern Mediterranean region should lay the foundation for energy security..
He said the United States supports Greece’s efforts to diversify energy routes and believes in security cooperation between Washington and Athens. The Secretary of State also noted that Russia has a destabilizing influence in the region..
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