Now that the Turkish research vessel Oruc Reis has once again entered the disputed area off the coast of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, a solution in the eastern Mediterranean acceptable to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey seems to have become more difficult again. The situation remains tense. Foreign Minister Maas is in Nicosia and Athens today for talks with the respective Heads of State and Foreign Ministers. It is clear that Germany fully supports Greece and Cyprus, also in its current capacity as holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU. Ahead of his departure he commented as follows:
All sides must therefore continue to work on sensible neighbourly relations. That will require sincere efforts on all sides. Exploratory talks between the parties can only be successful if they are conducted in a constructive atmosphere. We therefore call on Turkey not to take unilateral measures and therby shut the window for dialogue with Greece which has just opened. If the Turkish government is interested in holding talks – as it has repeatedly stated – then Ankara must stop alternating between efforts to reduce tensions and provocation.
If the Turkish Government really does resume exploring for gas in the disputed areas in the eastern Mediterranean, it would be a bitter setback for the efforts to de‑escalate the situation – and thus to also further develop EU‑Turkish relations, as decided by the last European Council.
Efforts to continue the dialogue
When in Nicosia and Athens today, Foreign Minister Maas will call on his interlocutors to continue along the path of dialogue and to ensure that the lines of communication do not break down, especially when it comes to difficult issues. For, ultimately, there is no other way to resolve this conflict among NATO partners. Turkey will remain a neighbour of both Greece and Cyprus and the geography of the eastern Mediterranean will not change. Maas will make it clear that Germany remains actively engaged and ready to do everything it can to support the quest for a solution.