BRUSSELS- Anadolu Agency
Turkish and Greek military delegations held the sixth round of technical talks on Sept. 29 afternoon at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss the Eastern Mediterranean, according to the Turkish National Defence Ministry.
The talks, aiming to reduce the risk of an incident amid rising tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, were planned after a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
An initial technical meeting was held on Sept. 10.
The fifth round of technical talks between Turkish and Greek military delegations at NATO headquarters was held last week.
NATO-led technical military talks between Turkey and Greece can help resolve the underlying problems between the two allies, the alliance’s top official said on Sept. 28.
Speaking at an online event about climate change, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg responded to a question on tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece.
Stoltenberg said NATO was concerned about the rising tensions between the two NATO allies, adding that the alliance had taken the initiative “to bring together two highly valued allies, Greece and Turkey, to sit together and see how we can develop what we call military deconfliction mechanisms.”
“This is about how to make sure that ships, planes keep the necessary distance, behave in a responsible way. So, we prevent, avoid incidents and accidents. And there are always risks with that when you have so many ships at the same place in the same territory, as we have seen in Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
Stoltenberg also said his recent talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led to the start of “technical military talks.”
“Hopefully, if we can find a solution, establish these mechanisms, then that can help to support the German-led efforts to facilitate talks on the underlying main problem,
“So, there is ongoing work here at NATO. Deconfliction is important in itself. It reduces the risks, incidents and accidents. And hopefully, it can also support the efforts of Germany to address the underlying main problem,” he added.
Greece, with France’s support, has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
Turkey, the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean, has sent drill ships with a military escort to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus also have rights in the region.
To reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure fair sharing of the region’s resources
US voices support for dialogue between Turkey, Greece
Meanwhile, Washington “strongly” supports dialogue between NATO allies of Turkey and Greece, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sept. 29 during his two-day visit to Greece.
Speaking at a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Souda Bay, the U.S. naval base on the island of Crete, Pompeo encouraged the two countries to resume talks as soon as possible.
“I spoke with [NATO] Secretary General Stoltenberg just two days ago on the progress being made in NATO,” Pompeo said, “And we hope that these talks can continue in a serious way.”
“The U.S. also believes deeply, the development of the Eastern Mediterranean should promote cooperation and provide a foundation for the durable energy security and economic prosperity of the entire region,” he added.