Athens is "relatively" eager to enhance relations and political dialogue with Türkiye, Greek Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis said Monday.
"We have had a process of getting together, at least of resetting, a more sincere and frank relationship with Türkiye," Gerapetritis told Egypt's Al Qahera TV in an interview on Aug. 3, which was released by the Greek Foreign Ministry on Monday.
Remarking that he and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan have developed a channel of communication, he said: "What we want to do is to try to promote a positive agenda with issues of common interest, such as trade, economy, civil protection, tourism, the overall development of the two countries, and then work on our relationships."
Gerapetritis argued that the delimitation of maritime borders is a major difference between the two countries. "We are considering to refer this dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Hague," he said.
Last month, the Greek foreign minister said Athens was prepared to start talks with Türkiye to resolve the long-standing issue over maritime borders.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met in July during a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, and the meeting was hailed as a positive milestone by both countries. Mitsotakis said that he agreed with Erdoğan during a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12 to initiate new “lines of communication” and to maintain “a period of calm.” High-level talks between the two countries are expected to take place in the Greek city of Thessaloniki later this year.
Türkiye and Greece remain at odds over maritime boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean, a dispute that affects irregular migration into the European Union, mineral rights and the projection of military power.
The feud over exploratory drilling rights had culminated in a naval standoff three years ago.
Türkiye, which has the longest continental coastline in the region, doesn’t recognize that Greek islands off its borders have a continental shelf and rejects maritime boundary claims of Greece and Greek Cyprus, stressing that these exaggerated claims violate the sovereign rights of both Türkiye and Turkish Cypriots, while Greece insists that position contravenes international law.
In November 2019, Türkiye and Libya signed a maritime delimitation deal that provided a legal framework to prevent any fait accompli by regional states. Accordingly, attempts by the Greek government to appropriate huge parts of Libya's continental shelf, when a political crisis hit the North African country in 2011, were averted.
The agreement also confirmed that Türkiye and Libya are maritime neighbors.
In response, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement in August 2020, designating an EEZ in the Eastern Mediterranean between themselves. Maritime zones give rights to states over natural resources and the Eastern Mediterranean, which remains largely unexplored.
Greece often accuses NATO ally Türkiye of stepping up hostility in the Eastern Mediterranean over their outstanding conflicts, which also include overlapping claims over their airspace, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, irregular migration and the status of the Aegean islands.
Greece has been building a military presence on the Aegean islands since the 1960s in violation of both the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the Paris Treaty of 1947, which awarded the islands to Greece on condition that they are kept demilitarized. Ankara argues the move is a provocative action that frustrates its good faith efforts for peace.
However, despite standing issues, the neighbors have promised to shelve disputes that have caused repeated rounds of tension and even the risk of war over decades in the wake of devastating earthquakes in southeastern Türkiye in February.