Germany’s Maas to visit Turkey, Greece to defuse EastMed tension

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is set to visit Athens and Ankara on Aug. 25 as part of an effort to defuse tension between the two sides over the disputed continental shelf areas in the eastern Mediterranean, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Sunday.

Maas will be visiting with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, before meeting his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and will discuss quelling regional tensions and resuming talks between Ankara and Athens for a peaceful solution in the Aegean and Mediterranean, it said.

Maas’ visit arrives amid rising tension in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece due to a dispute over competing claims to hydrocarbon exploration rights. 

On Aug. 10, Turkey sent the Oruç Reis survey vessel, escorted by warships, to map out possible oil and gas drilling in territory over which both countries claim jurisdiction.

Turkey has said the Oruç Reis will continue work between Cyprus and Crete until Aug. 23, despite a call from the European Union for Turkey to halt its activities in the contested waters. Last week, warships from both Turkey and Greece were involved in a mild collision.

Maas, whose country currently holds the EU term presidency, is set to host EU foreign ministers at an informal meeting on Aug. 27, where the tension in the eastern Mediterranean will be covered.