Turkish President Erdogan says the course of exploratory talks would depend on the sincere steps to be taken by Greece in an effort to ease the tension.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) receives North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on April 16, 2018.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) receives North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on April 16, 2018. (AA)

Turkey is keeping a prudent and calm attitude despite Greece’s provocations amid rising tensions in the region, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan on Wednesday discussed the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the relationship between Turkey and NATO with its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Erdogan said the course of exploratory talks would depend on the sincere steps to be taken by Greece in an effort to ease the tension.

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He said Turkey is in favour of dialogue and reducing tension in the eastern Mediterranean and his country has made it clear not only by rhetoric but by its actions.

Stoltenberg said, "Spoke with President Erdogan about the situation in the East Med and the ongoing efforts NATO for military de-confliction to avoid incidents & accidents. Both Turkey and Greece are valued Allies and NATO is a platform for dialogue."

Erdogan discusses East Med, refugees with EU Commission

Erdogan also held a video conference with the head of the EU Commission earlier in the day to discuss Turkish-EU relations and regional developments, according to the country's Communications Directorate.

He told Ursula von der Leyen that maximalist claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot Administration were at the core of tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, with both ignoring the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Stressing that Turkey has always called for dialogue since tensions erupted recently in the eastern Mediterranean, Erdogan said his country is ready for exploratory talks with the Greek side and expressed hope that Greece would not miss an opportunity for diplomacy once again.

READ MORE: Why Turkey and Greece have so many differences

He went on to say that steps towards renewing the 2016 refugee deal between Ankara and the Brussels, as well as updating the customs union between them and ensuring visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals traveling to EU countries would help improve bilateral ties.

Erdogan also reiterated his call for fair burden-sharing on the issue of refugees, urging the EU to investigate violations by Greece and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) that have been pushing back refugee boats.

Greece, with France's support, has contested Turkey's energy exploration, 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 drillships with a military escort to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that it, along with Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, have rights in the region.

To reduce tensions, Turkey has called for dialogue to ensure fair sharing of the region's resources.

Both Turkey and Greece have agreed to resume talks aimed at addressing their contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean.

The talks will take place in Istanbul at a date to be announced.

READ MORE: Turkey and Greece to meet in Istanbul for eastern Mediterranean talks

Source: AA