Turkish envoy to Athens meets with Greek FM Dendias

Turkey’s Ambassador to Athens Burak Özügergin met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Wednesday, according to diplomatic sources.

Özügergin and Dendias met at the Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens and emphasized the importance of keeping up the recent contact between the two sides, according to sources, who asked to remain anonymous due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Özügergin said Turkish officials are prepared to go to all lengths to ensure that Dendias’ visit to Turkey in a few weeks will be “successful and fruitful.”

The Greek minister said on Twitter that the two “discussed bilateral relations and regional developments” in view of his April 14 visit.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected the maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that those excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. Ankara last year sent several drillships to explore for energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

EU leaders during a meeting in Brussels on Dec. 10 decided to draw up a list of Turkish targets to sanction over what they described as Ankara’s “unilateral actions and provocations” in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiations. Instead of opting to solve problems with Ankara through dialogue, Athens has, on several occasions, refused to sit at the negotiation table and opted to rally Brussels to take a tougher stance against Turkey.

Since then, the rhetoric on all sides has mellowed dramatically as Turkey and the bloc voiced their intent to “turn a new page.” Turkey has recently reiterated that it is part of the bloc and sees its future in the EU, while it will continue efforts toward full membership. Turkish officials have also said that they hope for progress in 2021 and expect the bloc to take definitive action to this end. The EU in January decided to hold off on potentially sanctioning Turkey thanks to positive developments made during a meeting with the bloc’s foreign ministers.