Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said he expects thaw in relations with Türkiye to continue after both countries hold elections in May.
“Greece is always looking for ways to have honest and sincere cooperation with Türkiye,” Dendias said after talks in Athens with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry.
Greek and Turkish officials have held a series of high-level meetings in recent weeks, in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in southern Türkiye in February. They promised to shelve disputes that have caused repeated rounds of tension and even heightened risks of war over decades.
Dendias said Athens would welcome new members of an association of nations in the eastern Mediterranean who cooperate on natural gas development. Türkiye is currently not a member.
“I want to clarify that we would welcome the participation of other countries in this forum, but on one obvious condition: Respect for international law, and respect for the international maritime law,” he said.
The current members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum are Greek Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
Greece and Egypt are also planning to build a 3.5 billion euro ($3.8 billion) undersea grid connector across the Mediterranean over the next decade, a project led by a Greek energy firm, the Copelouzos Group.
In recent weeks, Ankara has launched initiatives to improve ties with both Greece and Egypt, and Shoukry is due to travel on to Ankara after his stop in Athens.
Türkiye has disputed areas of potential gas reserves claimed by Greece in parts of the eastern Mediterranean. In 2020, the two countries held competing naval exercises in the area as tensions spiked.
Türkiye, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that these exaggerated claims violate the sovereign rights of both Türkiye and Turkish Cypriots.
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. The delimitation starts from Fethiye-Marmaris-Kaş on Türkiye’s southwestern coast and extends to the Derna-Tobruk-Bordia coastline of Libya.
In response, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement in August 2020, designating an EEZ in the Eastern Mediterranean between the two countries.
Maritime zones give states rights over natural resources. Largely unexplored, the East Mediterranean is thought to be rich in natural gas.
Türkiye will hold elections on May 14, and Greece a week later. Shoukry also met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Tuesday.