sunny.png
Sunday September 20th, 2020 10:33AM

NATO: Turkey, Greece agree to talks about tensions at sea

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The chief of NATO said Thursday that Greece and Turkey have agreed to start “technical talks” aimed at helping to reduce the risks of military incidents and accidents in the eastern Mediterranean, where the allies have been locked in a tense standoff over offshore energy rights.

But an official in Athens quickly denied any such agreement, saying Turkey must first withdraw its warships from the area where it’s carrying out research.

There was no immediate reaction from Ankara.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the possible diplomatic opening in a statement on the military alliance's website the same day that Turkey announced that Russia plans to conduct live-fire naval exercises this month in the eastern Mediterranean .

“Greece and Turkey are valued Allies, and NATO is an important platform for consultations on all issues that affect our shared security,” the statement read. “I remain in close touch with all concerned Allies to find a solution to the tensions in the spirit of NATO solidarity.”

A Greek official told The Associated Press that talk of an agreement “does not not correspond with reality.”

"In any case, we have noted the NATO Secretary-General’s intention to work to create mechanisms for de-escalation within the framework of NATO,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment on the record.

“Nevertheless, de-escalation would only be achieved with the immediate withdrawal of all Turkish ships from the Greek continental shelf,”he said.

Turkey announced the Russian exercises in a navigational notice that said they would take place Sept. 8-22 and Sept. 17-25 in areas of the Mediterranean Sea where Turkish research vessels are doing seismic work for oil and gas exploration. Greece says the disputed area is over its continental shelf.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow on the exercises, which Turkey announced after the United States said it was partially lifting a 33-year-old arms embargo against ethnically divided Cyprus. Like Greece, Cyprus has been in a dispute with Turkey over drilling rights in the Mediterranean.

In Athens, Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the planned Russian exercises were being “monitored by all the countries in the region, as well as our NATO allies and European Union partners.”

It's unclear why NATO-member Turkey announced such drills on Russia's behalf, but the two countries have in recent years significantly strengthened their military, political and economic ties. They are coordinating closely on their military presence in Syria, while Turkey has purchased Russia's advanced S-400 missiles and has broken ground on a Russian-built nuclear power plant on its southern coast.

Cyprus government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos said that Russia notifies Cypriot authorities directly about navigation notices. He said Cyprus has no issue with Russia and that its only complaint concerns Turkey’s attempts to “take advantage” of the situation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone on Thursday. Germany currently holds the European Union’s rotating presidency and has been trying to informally mediate the dispute over drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

A statement from Erdogan’s office said the Turkish leader wants an arrangement in which resources are shared “fairly” and complained that Greece, Greek Cypriots and countries backing the two were the ones escalating tensions.

The Turkish government has reacted angrily to the U.S. move on the Cyprus arms embargo, saying it went against the “spirit of alliance” between Washington and Ankara. It also warned that it would harm efforts to reunify Cyprus, a Mediterranean island nation which is split between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

Turkish officials have also vowed to take steps to guarantee the security of the self-declared Turkish state in the island's north.

The Russian exercises come at a time of increased friction between Turkey on the one side and Greece and Cyprus on the other over offshore energy exploration rights.

Warships from Greece and Turkey have shadowed each other in recent weeks as Turkish survey vessels and drill ships continue to prospect for hydrocarbons in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights. Greek and Turkish armed forces held their own exercises in the area last month.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Thursday that the lifting of the embargo against would lead to a deadlock.

“If you lift the embargo and try to disrupt the balance in this way, this will bring conflict, not peace. This will create a deadlock, not a solution,” he said.

Cyprus split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey is the only nation to recognize a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and it maintains more than 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus.

Akar also took aim at France, which joined Greece and Cyprus for military exercises in the region, accusing it of “bullying, making claims and playing the role of a guardian angel.”

U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Judith Garber said the embargo lifting had no connection to “valued partner and ally” Turkey, but aimed to strengthen regional security and to “counter malign actors in the region.”

“We believe that Russia is playing a very destabilizing role in the region, especially in Syria,” Garber said.

Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy on Thursday rejected Garber's remarks. He said that Russia is in Syria at the behest of the country's government, and he accused the U.S. of sowing “blood, chaos, unrest and an unprecedented migration crisis" through its actions in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Libya.

Osadchiy also accused Washington of pursuing a policy of “divide and rule” in the eastern Mediterranean by attempting to drive a wedge between Russia and Cyprus through its demand for the island nation to deny Russian warships access to its ports.

Russia maintains a sizable naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean and regularly conducts naval maneuvers there.

__

Menelaos Hadjicostis reported from Nicosia, Cyprus. Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Greece contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP World News - International incidents, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
NATO: Turkey, Greece agree to talks about tensions at sea
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Greece and Turkey have agreed to start “technical talks” aimed at helping to reduce the risks of military incidents and accidents in the eastern Mediterranean
1:03PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Boseman to be honored in hometown, where he inspired others
Actor Chadwick Boseman will be mourned, honored and celebrated in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina
1:00PM ( 7 minutes ago )
AP Explains: Novichok that sickened Navalny a Cold War relic
Novichok, a deadly nerve agent that has left Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a coma and nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter in 2018, was the product of a highly secretive Soviet chemical weapons program
1:00PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Czech Senate president meets Taiwan leader; Beijing protests
The Czech Senate president has met with Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen during a rare trip by a foreign dignitary to the self-ruled democratic island that rival China called an “open provocation.”
12:16PM ( 51 minutes ago )
Top stars at Venice Film Fest praise gender-neutral prizes
Two stars at the Venice Film Festival have praised the decision by the Berlin festival to award gender-neutral prizes starting next year
11:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
Greece suffers huge output loss but sticks to 2020 forecast
Greece has suffered a huge drop in output in the second quarter of the year, plummeting 15.2% on an annual basis, but the government insisted the figures did not worsen the country’s annual outlook
11:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
The Latest: WHO panel to offer report on virus next year
An independent panel appointed by the World Health Organization to review its coordination of the response to the coronavirus pandemic says it will have full access to any internal U.N. agency documents, materials and emails
12:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
US long-term mortgage rates little changed; 30-year at 2.93%
U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages changed little this week, remaining at historically low levels that has sparked demand for homes
11:59AM ( 1 hour ago )
Technology stocks stumble, leading rest of the market lower
Technology stocks took a tumble on Wall Street Thursday, giving back some of their spectacular gains over the past several months and dragging the rest of the market down with them
11:26AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Tyson Foods to open medical clinics at US plants
Tyson Foods says it is planning to open medical clinics at several of its U.S. plants to improve the health of its workers and better protect them from the coronavirus
8:25AM ( 4 hours ago )
UN chief urges Japan, others to meet goals on climate change
The U.N. chief is urging Japan and other wealthy nations to give up reliance on coal and other fossil fuels and commit to investments in green energy as they recover from the coronavirus pandemic
7:50AM ( 5 hours ago )
Pressure grows for Germany to rethink pipeline with Russia
German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces pressure to use a joint German-Russian pipeline project as leverage in getting Russia to provide answers about the poisoning of the Kremlin’s most determined critic
7:28AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Damaged Venezuelan oil tanker drawing international concern
A huge oil tanker listing off a remote stretch of Venezuela's coast is triggering international calls for action
5:10PM ( 19 hours ago )
Mercedes-Benz unveils new flagship S-Class sedan
Daimler AG is showing off the new S-Class from its Mercedes-Benz luxury brand
12:04PM ( 1 day ago )
Drilling, mines, other projects hastened by Trump order
Documents provided to The Associated Press show the Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic
11:34AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Boseman to be honored in hometown, where he inspired others
Actor Chadwick Boseman will be mourned, honored and celebrated in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina
1:00PM ( 7 minutes ago )
AP Explains: Novichok that sickened Navalny a Cold War relic
Novichok, a deadly nerve agent that has left Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a coma and nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter in 2018, was the product of a highly secretive Soviet chemical weapons program
1:00PM ( 8 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pironkova pulls off upset to advance at Open
Tsvetana Pironkova has pulled off an upset to reach the third round at the U.S. Open, her first tournament in more than three years
12:56PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Turkey: Russia to hold live-fire exercises in Mediterranean
Turkey has announced that Russia will hold live-fire naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean
12:53PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Hands up, masks on: High school students face whole new year
Children are slowly returning to school in England, most of them for the first time in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic
12:43PM ( 24 minutes ago )