ATHENS Diplomats from NATO member countries Greece and Turkey failed to make a breakthrough on Tuesday in a final round of talks over their stalemate over eastern Mediterranean borders and energy rights.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias later told reporters that his country was participating in the talks in good faith, but the two sides appeared far apart on both the scope and the details of the talks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it is out of the question for us to make any concessions.
Addressing a press conference, he added, Turkey’s determination in the Eastern Mediterranean remains whole.
NATO allies disagree on issues such as competing claims on their respective continental shelves, maritime rights and airspace in the Mediterranean, energy, the ethnic division of Cyprus and the status of certain islands in the Aegean Sea.
Turkey protested this week against an agreement between Greece, Israel and Cyprus for an undersea cable connecting their power grids. According to the official Anadolu news agency, Ankara claims that the planned route of the cable crosses Turkey’s continental shelf.
The exploratory talks aim to lay the groundwork for formal negotiations, but the two countries have made little progress in more than 60 rounds of meetings since 2002 and are unable to even agree on the issues to be discussed.
The talks ended after nearly four hours and the two sides agreed to hold another round in Istanbul, according to diplomatic sources quoted by Greek state television ERT. No details were given on the substance of the meeting.
A separate meeting between Greek and Turkish officials outside the exploratory framework will take place on Wednesday.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said earlier that he was ready to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, but any meeting must take place in the right atmosphere.
Ending a five-year hiatus, officials met in January after months of tension in the eastern Mediterranean.
Athens said it would only discuss the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf of the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean, and not issues of national sovereignty.
Ankara, which hopes to improve relations with the European Union, which has backed EU member Greece and threatened sanctions against Turkey, said it wants all issues, including airspace and the islands of the Aegean Sea, be on the table.
EU leaders are expected to discuss the Eastern Mediterranean at a meeting on March 25-26.
Greece, which in recent years has concluded maritime agreements with Italy and Egypt, says if the two sides cannot come to an agreement, they should refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
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