"So let's meet, let's talk and let's seek a mutually acceptable solution. Let's give diplomacy a chance," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gestures during a news conference with European Council President Charles Michel (not pictured), in Athens, Greece, September 15, 2020.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis gestures during a news conference with European Council President Charles Michel (not pictured), in Athens, Greece, September 15, 2020. (Reuters)

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has appealed to Turkey to find a diplomatic solution to tensions, saying he hopes to build a partnership between the historic rival neighbours.

"So let's meet, let's talk and let's seek a mutually acceptable solution. Let's give diplomacy a chance," Mitsotakis said to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an address to the virtual UN General Assembly.

"If after all we still cannot agree, then we should trust the wisdom of the International Court at The Hague," Mitsotakis said, reiterating an offer from Greece.

Tension mounted

In a recorded message before the backdrop of the Acropolis, Mitsotakis pointed to the United Arab Emirates' recent recognition of Israel as a sign that Greece and Turkey can overcome historic animosity.

"I refuse to believe that partnership between near neighbours is not possible," Mitsotakis said.

Turkey last month sent a vessel backed by military frigates to search for oil and gas reserves in waters also claimed by Greece.

Greece responded with naval exercises as a warning and has enjoyed support within the European Union, especially from France.

READ MORE: Turkey says EU should respect its stance on eastern Mediterranean

Exploratory talks to continue

The tone has recently softened with Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, agreeing on Tuesday to begin exploratory talks on their row.

The 61st round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey was announced to be held in Istanbul.

The 60th round, the last of the exploratory talks initiated between the two countries in 2002, was held in Athens on March 1, 2016. After this date, the negotiations between the two countries continued in the form of political consultations, but did not return to an exploratory framework.

In his own address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, President Erdogan said that Turkey wanted to "settle disputes with sincere dialogue, based on international law and on an equitable basis."

Many actors ready to talk: EU official

Many actors are ready to discuss the eastern Mediterranean at a multilateral conference, the European Council president told the UN General Assembly on Friday.

The EU has been “undertaking intensive diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions and to promote dialogue” among the parties involved in the eastern Mediterranean conflict, Charles Michel said.

“Many actors have already responded positively and are ready to discuss the modalities,” Michel explained.

According to the top EU official, the conference should address maritime delimitations, security, energy issues, and migration.

In order to solve the row between Turkey, Greece, and the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus, the EU chief on September 4 has already proposed to organise a multilateral conference with the involvement of the UN.

Greece has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the region, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill ships to explore for energy reserves on its continental shelf, saying that both Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.

READ MORE: Erdogan files complaint against Greek paper for derogatory headline

Source: TRTWorld and agencies