Greek, Turkish diplomats hold talks after year of strain

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Senior diplomats from Greece and Turkey met in Athens on Tuesday in an effort to ease long-standing tensions between the two NATO members over disputed sea boundaries and related mineral rights.

The exploratory talks, which lasted for four hours at a hotel next to parliament, are aimed at leading to more formal negotiations following a five-year pause.

The tension between Greece and Turkey led to a dangerous military build-up in the eastern Mediterranean last year and also added strain to Ankara’s ties with the European Union.

The EU is currently preparing an evaluation report on its relationship with Turkey. European officials say there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who was not present at the talks Tuesday, said he hoped an improvement in ties would allow for him to meet with his Turkish counterpart, Melvut Cavusolglu.

But in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out making any concessions to Greece concerning its rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Turkey’s determination continues unchanged,” he told journalists during a news conference. “In other words, there can be no question of us making any concessions.” The exploratory talks in Athens were led by Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and Pavlos Apostolides, a veteran senior Greek diplomat and former National Intelligence Service director.

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