Pompeo called on Greece and Turkey to hold talks on Maritime borders

The Secretary of State visited Greece amid increased tensions in the region over mutual claims between Ankara and Athens.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday called on NATO allies Greece and Turkey to continue negotiations to resolve the dispute over Maritime borders as soon as possible.

Greece and Turkey, which are engaged in disputes over some issues, agreed to resume preliminary negotiations on Maritime claims in the Eastern Mediterranean “in the future,” but did not announce a date.

“We hope that these talks can continue seriously,” Pompeo said after meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the island of Crete. “We call on them to resume discussions on these issues as soon as possible.”

Pompeo arrived for a two-day visit to Greece amid heightened tensions in the region over disputes over energy resources.

Tensions escalated last month after Ankara sent its seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis into disputed waters, accompanied by artillery boats, to map out possible oil and gas drilling.
Turkey subsequently recalled the ship, saying it would allow for diplomatic efforts ahead of an October 1-2 EU summit to discuss the Maritime dispute and possible sanctions against Ankara. Cyprus, Greece, and France insist on imposing sanctions.

Cyprus, an EU member, has refused to support sanctions against Belarus unless stricter measures are taken against Turkey.

Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean have laid claim to the region’s Maritime zones in the hope of finding oil or gas there, revealing long-standing and sometimes forgotten conflicts.

Greece and Egypt have signed a Pact to define their Maritime borders, which has angered Turkey, which says the agreement means encroaching on its territory. And the zoning agreement between Turkey and the internationally recognized government of Libya has caused discontent in Greece.

Pompeo, who visited Thessaloniki in Northern Greece on Monday, said the Eastern Mediterranean region should lay the foundation for energy security.

He said the United States supports Greece’s efforts to diversify energy routes and believes in security cooperation between Washington and Athens. The Secretary of state also noted that Russia has a destabilizing influence in the region.