Exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey resume on January 25

Kyriakos Mitsotakis. EFE / EPA / ALEXANDROS VLACHOS / Archive

Athens, Jan 12 (EFE) .- Exploratory contacts to try to resolve the differences between Greece and Turkey will resume on January 25 in Istanbul, after a year in which tensions reached a critical point, according to the Greek Foreign Ministry. .
The 61st round of contacts is the first in five years, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his wish on Monday during a visit to Portugal that the talks resume where they left off in March 2016.
Since then the situation has changed notably in both countries and in their bilateral relations, but Athens has made it clear that it will only discuss their differences over maritime zones, such as territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone.
Meanwhile, Ankara has made public its intention to discuss the alleged illegal Greek occupation of several Aegean islands and the demilitarization of the islands off the Turkish coast.
On the Greek side, the exploratory contacts will be led by Pavlos Apostolidis, former director of the National Intelligence Agency and honorary ambassador, who already led the Hellenic delegation in the last round.
This Monday, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Çavusoglu, invited Greece to resume contacts. However, the Greek Foreign Ministry replied that it had not received any official invitation and would accept it if so.
In the evening the official process was finally closed with the Turkish proposal to meet in Istanbul on Monday 25, and the Greek side accepted.
It is noteworthy that the beginning of the exploratory contacts is after the inauguration of the elected president of the United States, Joe Biden, on the 20th, and before the European Council in March.
On the other hand, this Tuesday the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Greek Parliament will discuss the draft law to expand for the first time since 1947 the Greek territorial waters in the Ionian Sea to twelve nautical miles, which, although it does not affect the area that stars in the conflict with Turkey, it does make clear the Hellenic intention against the neighboring country. EFE
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