Greece, Turkey agree to resume exploratory talks on January 25 in Istanbul

The 61st round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey will take place in Istanbul on January 25, the Greek Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on Monday, in a brief statement.

According to diplomatic sources, the Turkish side contacted the Greek one and proposed that the 61st round take place at the above date and place.

The Greek side has accepted the invitation, they added.

Earlier, responding to questions, the Greek prime minister during his visit in Portugal, said that Greece will start exploratory talks with Turkey, once a date is set, on the basis of European Council guidelines, “which are to start where we stopped in March 2016, and to achieve progerss on the issue of delimiting the maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.”

However, Greece has not yet received any invitation to work towards a date for the talks, Mitsotakis said, reiterating that “the one and only issue that we are facing is the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean.”

But as Mitsotakis also noted, “I count as a positive point that Turkey is expressing a will to have the process begin.” An established date “will be a positive first step. The European Council has stressed that this policy requires consistence and continuity,” he said, and referred to the progress report expected in March by Josep Borrell, the EU’s head of foreign relations.

Portugal’s prime minister also added that both his country and the EU have clearly stated their fulls solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and have demanded respect for their territorial integrity, as they are members of the EU. “Doubts cast on any EU member state’s territorial integrity means the territorial integrity of the entire EU is cast in doubt,” he pointed out.

“We are all NATO allies,” he said, “and Turkey is one of the most important neighbors of the EU. We have very powerful economic and social ties, and there is a large Turkish community in the EU.” He said his country’s presidency would work towards a normalization of relations, and have “a new agenda, a new relationship with Turkey,” at the European Council meeting in March, “without naturally forgetting Greece’s and Cyprus’ rights.”