Turkey on Saturday urged Greece to use common sense and act responsibly, responding to a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) recently issued by Greece for a vast area in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean seas.
"We see that Greece continues her provocative and escalatory steps in the region," Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said in a statement.
"The latest example is the NOTAM promulgated by Greece by which it declared 15 military exercise areas, including the islands under demilitarized status, that blocks the Aegean all along and a very large portion of the Eastern Mediterranean starting from January 4 until February 26, 2021," Aksoy said.
He noted Turkey's position remains unchanged when it comes to reviving dialogue channels with Greece, especially exploratory, highlighting that there would be no preconditions.
"We call on Greece to act with common sense and in a responsible manner by contributing to our efforts to strengthen peace and stability in the region within the framework of good neighborly relations," the spokesperson added.
In another statement during his visit to Libya on Sunday, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey wants to solve the issues related to the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and Cyprus within the scope of good neighborly relations and international law.
Reminding that Turkey and Greece have engaged in de-confliction talks at NATO headquarters, Akar stated that Ankara is always open to negotiating but that its efforts are not reciprocated.
“Unfortunately, third parties fail to see this and take sides. We expect the third sides to be reasonable and objective. Yet, our Greek neighbors exploit the situation at every opportunity and use provocative, tension-increasing methods,” the defense minister said.
Akar also reiterated that Greece has been avoiding talks. Ankara and Athens had been holding NATO-led de-confliction talks to resolve tensions, but the latter has been keeping its channels of communication closed.
Designed to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean, the mechanism includes the creation of a hotline between Athens and Ankara to facilitate resolving conflicts at sea or in the air.
However, Greece hindered the NATO-led mechanism by refusing to attend talks, as it did not send delegations to four meetings in October.
Amid recent tensions in the region, Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration increased their pressure on other EU members to impose sanctions on Turkey during the EU leaders' summit on Dec. 11.
Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that the excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ankara has sent several drillships to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue and negotiation.
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