Turkish and Greek officials met to see if they could find any common ground to try to resolve a festering dispute over maritime boundaries that brought their navies to the brink of confrontation.
In the run-up to the meeting in Istanbul on Monday, Turkey and Greece couldn’t even agree on the agenda of “exploratory talks,” whose ultimate aim would be to defuse years of conflict over sovereignty of the areas off their coasts. For the Greeks, they’re not even talks but contacts.
With expectations running so low before, even maintaining dialog seemed like a success to both sides. A renewal of tensions could potentially trigger tougher EU sanctions against Turkey over its unilateral search for energy in contested waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The sides had last sat down to discuss maritime boundaries in 2016. This 61st round of talks on Monday were decided under pressure from European Union and NATO allies after the traditional rivals mobilized their navies and warplanes against one another in the Mediterranean Sea over the past year.