Greece overrules NATO’s announced launch of dialogue with Turkey
Athens denied a statement by NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Greece and Turkey had agreed to technical talks to defuse tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greek diplomatic sources said the only way to de-escalate was for Turkey to withdraw its warships from Greek waters.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg tweeted on Thursday night that following his discussions with the two leaders, the two allies have agreed to "enter into technical talks at NATO to establish mechanisms for military de-confliction to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean".
However, Greek diplomatic sources immediately stressed that the announcement of "alleged technical talks in NATO does not correspond to reality."
The sources said they took note of Stoltenberg’s intention to work to establish de-escalation mechanisms within NATO.
"However, de-escalation is only the immediate removal of all Turkish ships from the Greek waters," Euroactive cited the sources as saying.
According to Greek media reports, Stoltenberg expressed to the national permanent delegations to NATO in Brussels his intention to suggest technical talks between Greece and Turkey.
But Athens never gave its agreement, nor did Stoltenberg talk to the Greek prime minister or foreign minister, the sources suggested.
Tensions between Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, have escalated dangerously in recent weeks after Turkey decided to send seismic vessel Oruç Reis, accompanied by Turkish navy ships, into Greek territorial waters.