Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, talks in a televised address, following a cabinet meeting, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. Erdogan, who has long called for a reform of the United Nations, says the world body has failed in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Erdogan claimed the UN was late in “accepting the existence” of the pandemic and had failed to “make its presence felt” for nations requiring help to fight infections. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks in a bid to overcome a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to exploit oil and gas resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Tuesday.

The statement followed his video conference meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.

During the meeting, Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots — and said the “momentum” for dialogue should be protected,” according to the statement.

The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights in an area between Turkey’s southern coast, several Greek islands and the war-divided island of Cyprus. Turkey sent a research vessel into the disputed waters this summer.

Following mediation efforts by Germany and others, Turkey pulled back the research vessel to port and both countries eased their naval presence and halted military exercises, paving the way for a dialogue.

It was not clear when and how the talks would begin. Erdogan told Merkel and Michel that “steps to be taken by Greece” would determine the course of the talks.

Greek-Turkish talks to resolve disputes were last held in 2016.

The Turkish leader also said he hoped that the next European Union summit would breathe new life into Turkish-EU ties, including allowing Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to Europe and sealing a new agreement on migration.

EU members Greece and Cyprus had been pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey at the Sept. 24-25 summit meeting to due Turkey’s search for energy inside Cyprus’ economic zone. But the summit has been postponed for a week because Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.

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