Greek sources dismiss Turkey meeting as Erdoğan accuses Athens of raising tensions

Greek diplomatic sources on Tuesdaydismissed claims by the Turkish Foreign Ministry that a meeting had been scheduled between the two countries’ foreign ministers on January 25, Greek newspaper Katherimerini reported.

There had been no “planned or agreed (upon)” meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the newspaper cited the sources as saying, a day after the Greek Foreign Ministry confirmed the Turkey announced new round of exploratory talks over territorial claims in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The Greek minister of foreign affairs has had a friendly relationship with his Turkish counterpart for several years, but a meeting between the two in the next few weeks has not been planned or agreed,’’ the sources said.

Greece and Turkey have long disagreed on overlapping claims on hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, with both sides holding conflicting views of how far their continental shelves extend in waters. A previous round of exploratory talks between the two sides took place in 2016.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday accused Greece of raising tension in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

Erdoğan called on Athens to end “airspace violations and illegal actions on the issue of the islands,” state-run TRT news reported, but added that exploratory talks with the neighbouring country would “herald a new era.’’

The two countries have alsodisputed for decades over the sovereignty and related rights in the area of the Aegean Sea. Turkey maintains the existence of "grey zones", a number of small islands it says have undetermined sovereignty.

Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday said exploratory talks with Greece were set to take place in Istanbul this month.

"We have agreed to meet with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias later on,’’ Habertürk cited Çavuşoğlu as saying.