ATHENS – Greece said Tuesday it would welcome expanded cooperation with Turkey after both countries hold elections next month ‒ including on energy issues that have been at the heart of decades-old disputes.
“Greece is always looking for ways to have honest and sincere cooperation with Turkey,” Foreign Minister Nikos 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 devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey in February. They promised to shelve disputes that have caused repeated rounds of tension and even the risk 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. Turkey is not currently a member.
“I want to make clear 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 law of the sea,” he said.
The current members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum are 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.
Turkey 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.
Egypt signed a military cooperation pact with Greece and Cyprus in 2021 and a bilateral agreement with Athens the year before that on sea exploration boundaries that are at odds with rival plans by Turkey.
But 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.
Turkey will hold elections on May 14 and Greece a week later. Shoukry also met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis Tuesday.