ATHENS – Greece said Tuesday that it would welcome stronger collaboration with Turkey following elections in both countries next month, especially on energy problems that have been at the core of decades-long tensions.
“Greece is always looking for ways to have honest and sincere cooperation with Turkiye,” Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after meeting his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Athens.
Following the disastrous earthquakes in southern Turkey in February, Greek and Turkish officials have had a series of high-level discussions in recent weeks. They vowed to put an end to conflicts that had created decades of tension and even the threat of war.
Dendias stated that Athens would welcome additional members of an organization of eastern Mediterranean nations that collaborate on natural gas development. Turkiye is not a member at the moment.
“I want to make it clear that we would welcome other countries’ participation in this forum, but with one obvious condition: respect for international law, and respect for international law of the sea,” he said.
Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority are the current members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum.
Greece and Egypt are also aiming to build a 3.5 billion euro ($3.8 billion) undersea grid link across the Mediterranean over the next decade, led by the Copelouzos Group, a Greek energy corporation.
Turkiye has challenged Greece’s claims to prospective gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. As tensions rose in the region in 2020, the two countries held rival naval maneuvers in the vicinity.
Egypt signed a military cooperation deal with Greece and Cyprus in 2021, as well as a bilateral agreement with Athens the year before on marine exploration boundaries, which contradict Turkiye’s ambitions.
However, Ankara has recently begun steps to strengthen ties with both Greece and Egypt, and Shoukry is scheduled to travel to Ankara after his visit in Athens.
Turkiye will hold elections on May 14, with Greece following a week later. On Tuesday, Shoukry met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.