Athens, Greece – Greek and Turkish officials are likely to meet again in early March 2021 to revive efforts to resolve a maritime boundary dispute, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
The two NATO allies have been at odds over a number of decades-old issues including the extent of their continental shelves, overflights in the Aegean Sea and ethnically split Cyprus.
In 2002-2016, they held dozens of rounds of talks to try to lay the groundwork for full negotiations over the delimitation of maritime zones.
After a four-year pause, prolonged by a dispute over overlapping claims for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean last year, the two resumed the exploratory talks on January 25, 2021. That meeting in Istanbul, the 61st round, ended after a few hours but both sides said they had agreed to meet again in Athens.
Mitsotakis said the talks are likely to resume by early March 2021, ahead of an EU summit on March 25, 2021.
“I expect within the next month March 2021, at some point end of February 2021, beginning of March 2021. It’s a good step in the right direction,” he said.
Obstacles remain, including what each side is willing to discuss. Greece says it will only address the demarcation of maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey says all issues between the two sides should be tackled, including air space and the status of some Greek islands.
“Turkey needs to be consistent in terms of its behaviour, this cannot just be a decoy to avoid the discussion at the EU council in March 2021,” Mitsotakis said.
Greece, which has recently reached maritime accords with Italy and Egypt, argues that if the two sides fail to agree, they should refer the dispute to an international tribunal.