Turkish, Greek delegations meet after one and a half years

Turkish and Greek foreign ministry officials met in Athens for the first time in 18 months as part of the effort by the neighbouring countries to keep lines of communication open and to de-escalate tensions, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Friday.

The two sides, led respectively by the Foreign Ministry’s General Secretary Dimitris Paraskevopoulos and Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, assessed the current situation in the Aegean, the international dimension of the Cyprus problem and discussed ways to improve bilateral relations, the newspaper quoted the Greek Foreign Ministry as saying.

Tensions have been soaring over the past few years between the NATO allies over territorial disputes in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean seas and hydrocarbons rights in the eastern Mediterranean, among others.

Turkey, the only country to recognise North Cyprus on the divided island of Cyprus, has promised to stop what it sees as unilateral moves by the Greek side of the disputed island to exploit the potentially rich waters.

The meeting of foreign ministry delegations is expected to be followed up by a planned meeting between military delegations of both countries, whose date has yet to be announced.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Greek counterpart George Katrougalos also met on March 21 in the Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya to detail the agenda set by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during a bilateral summit early this year.