Turkey ready to revive dialogue with Greece - foreign ministry

Turkey is ready to revive dialogue channels with Greece and is also prepared to start a new dialogue channel to discuss issues regarding the eastern Mediterranean, Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The ministry accused Greece of systematically violating 1923 Lausanne and 1947 Paris Peace Treaties by arming 16 of 23 islands placed under demilitarised status.

“From the very outset, Turkey has regularly and constantly lodged diplomatic initiatives and protested the violation of the demilitarised status of islands by Greece and third countries,” the ministry said. 

It said Ankara would like to use dialogue channels to resolve the issue regarding the demilitarised status of the Aegean islands together with other disputes among two neighbours.

“As President Erdoğan proposed at his meetings with the Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis in New York and London, Turkey stands ready to reinvigorate all dialogue channels with Greece, including the exploratory talks and is even prepared to start a new dialogue channel for the Eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry said. 

But, rather than dialogue, Athens chooses to complain about Turkey to the European Union, the ministry said, adding that “Greece is gravely mistaken, if she thinks that she would obtain results through third countries whenever she faces difficulties.”

Turkey and Greece have been at odd in recent years over potentially rich gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions have increased since Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding with the internationally recognised government of Libya on Nov. 27 that sees Turkey and Libya as maritime neighbours. Greece says the deal ignores territorial waters around several of its islands.

Aegean airspace is also one of the outstanding disputes between Turkey and Greece. Greece claims 10 nautical miles (19 km) of airspace, including from the islands which it owns. That is beyond its current six nautical miles of territorial waters. 

Turkey denies Greece’s claims saying the sea-based boundaries also define the limits of its national airspace according to international law.