Turkish leader, NATO chief hold talks in Ankara

Baku, October 6, AZERTAC

Turkey’s president received the head of NATO on Monday amid continued efforts to resolve differences between Turkey and Greece over the Eastern Mediterranean, according to Anadolu Agency.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met behind closed doors and discussed a range of issues for about an hour.

According to a statement released by Turkey's Communications Directorate, Erdogan and Stoltenberg discussed Turkey-NATO relations and regional developments, particularly regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, Libya and Syria.

Despite the negative behavior of Greece, Turkey has supported the NATO initiative to reduce the risk of accidents and incidents between Turkish and Greek military elements in the Eastern Mediterranean since the very beginning, Erdogan said in the meeting.

He underlined that Turkey, which has been single-handedly battling the refugee crisis for the security and stability of the entire region and Europe, is the only NATO ally making sincere efforts to restore balance in Libya.

Turkey protects the rights and interests of both itself and its allies and expects the same from alliance members, Erdogan added.

He also said that some NATO allies' cooperation with the PKK/PYD/YPG terror group and their patronage of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) poison the alliance’s solidarity.

Erdogan stressed that NATO allies should display concrete solidarity with Turkey.

On Twitter afterwards, Stoltenberg said: “Good meeting with President @RTErdogan in Ankara today on a range of security issues. We discussed the military de-confliction mechanism developed @NATO for the #EastMed.”

He said he hoped the de-confliction mechanism recently reached between Ankara and Athens at NATO-hosted meetings could create space for diplomatic efforts.

Also present at the meeting were Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Ambassador to NATO Basat Ozturk.

Turkish and Greek military delegations have been engaged in a series of NATO-hosted technical talks since Sept. 10, as planned after a phone call between Erdogan and Stoltenberg in early September.

Tensions have been running high for months in the Eastern Mediterranean as Greece has disputed Turkey's rights to energy exploration.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – sent out drill ships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Greece has made maximalist maritime territory claims in the region based on small islands near the Turkish coast in defiance of international law.

Turkey has stressed dialogue to reach fair sharing of the region’s resources.

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