German FM heads to Greece, Turkey as regional force mounts

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister used to be visiting Greece and Turkey on Tuesday so as to ease increasing force between the 2 neighbors, which may be at loggerheads over prospecting rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

Heiko Maas’s bolt to comes as Greece begins a defense drive exercise involving its navy and air drive in the Mediterranean southeast of Crete and south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, approach an declare the put Turkey has sent study vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by warships, to scrutinize the seabed for fuel and oil deposits.

In response to the Oruc Reis’s operations, Greece put its navy on alert and sent warships to shadow the Turkish vessels.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Turkish and allied navy ships can be conducting “maritime practicing” in the eastern Mediterranean on Tuesday “to promote coordination and interoperability.” A Turkish reliable said the practicing would last for a number of hours easiest. It wasn’t without delay clear which countries had been participating. Turkish media reported the exercise can be conducted south of the Greek island of Crete.

“Turkey and Greece are our NATO allies. There can easiest be solutions for the disputed questions surrounding the fuel deposits in the eastern Mediterranean on the root of world rules and in loyal dialogue,” Maas said sooner than his bolt to to the 2 countries.

“The tensions are no longer correct weighing on the relationship between the EU and Turkey. An additional escalation can easiest wretchedness both aspect, but above all these without delay fervent on the map.”

Greece says the declare in which the Oruc Reis has been working overlaps its have continental shelf and has demanded Turkey withdraw the ship. Ankara spoke back by extending its notification to shipping, is called a Navtex, in regards to the study vessel’s operations to Aug. 27.

Athens retorted by declaring this also can fair fabricate a 3-day defense drive exercise in the declare. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that “as of now, Greece stands out as the very best doubtless one accountable for any detrimental pattern in the bother,” and said the defense drive exercise “endangers the coastal and navigational security of all ships in the bother.”

The escalating force has raised issues of doubtless struggle between the 2 regional rivals, which maintain almost the brink of war thrice since the mid-1970s, including once over prospecting rights in the Aegean Sea.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has warned of the threat of an accident when so many defense drive vessels are concentrated in a minute declare at sea. Earlier this month, Athens said a Greek frigate and a Turkish frigate collided while shadowing the Oruc Reis. No injuries had been reported on both aspect. Greek media reported the Turkish frigate had suffered minor wretchedness above the waterline.

“The residence windows for dialogue between Greece and Turkey have to now be opened additional and no longer closed,” Maas said. “For this, in preference to most modern provocations, we sooner or later need steps toward de-escalation and a delivery as much as reveal talks.”

Maas’ depart comes before a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Berlin later this week, at which Turkey can be discussed. Maas famend that “Greece’s converse may perchance maintain particular weight.”

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Geir Moulson reported from Berlin. Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this document.

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