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Turkish defense minister invites Greek envoys to Ankara to resolve maritime disputes

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said Turkey expects Greek envoys to come to Ankara for the next meeting in a series of talks on maritime disputes in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean, stating that the negotiations are expected to be more productive in the coming days, Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

“There is work being done in the framework of trust-building steps. Two of these [meetings] were held in Athens, and one was held in Ankara. We conveyed to our counterparts that we want to host the fourth meeting. For the continuance of the meetings, we expect our counterparts to come to Ankara,” Akar was quoted by Anadolu as saying.

The minister added that Turkey expects Greece to be more “involved” in the upcoming meetings.

“We hope to come up with peaceful solutions to the problems between Greece and Turkey through these negotiations. We want everyone to know that we are ready to make necessary contributions to resolve the issues,” Anadolu quoted Akar as saying.

Akar noted that Turkey, with its research ships, has so far done nothing except technical and scientific studies.

 “We avoid any attitude or action that may negatively affect relations between the two countries. On the other hand, we do have certain rights,” he said, reminding all third parties to look at the issue objectively.

 “We see that Germany has been principled and as consistent as possible. We hope this approach will set an example for other EU and NATO countries,” the Turkish defense chief said.

Akar’s remarks came a day after his meeting with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in Berlin. He said the meeting with Kramp-Karrenbauer was “very constructive.”

“We have observed with great pleasure that we share similar opinions on many issues. I assess that some concrete steps will be taken, especially in the fields of defense and security, in the coming days as a result of this meeting,” Akar said.

Greece and Turkey bowed to EU pressure in late January and engaged in their first direct talks in nearly five years in a long-running dispute over eastern Mediterranean borders and energy rights.

Athens and Ankara held 60 rounds of talks between 2002 and 2016 without resolving the dispute that has lingered for much of the past century and nearly led to war in 1996.

Hostilities flared anew last year when Ankara sent a research ship accompanied by a navy flotilla into waters near the Turkish coast that Greece claims, with EU support.

Turkey is angry that Greece is using its web of islands to lay claim to huge swathes of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

Both sides cite a range of decades-old treaties and international agreements to support their conflicting claims.

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