Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Ankara wants to resolve the issue of eastern Medeastern with Greece. "We side with international law, good neighbourliness and dialogue," he added.

Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar holds a meeting on developments in Eastern Mediterranean via videoconference in Ankara, Turkey on August 11, 2020.
Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar holds a meeting on developments in Eastern Mediterranean via videoconference in Ankara, Turkey on August 11, 2020. (Turkish Ministry of Defence / AA)

Turkey and Greece have signalled a willingness to resolve a dispute over energy exploration in the Mediterranean, while vowing to defend their interests in the region.

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, vehemently disagree over overlapping claims to hydrocarbon resources in the region.

Turkey paused the Mediterranean mission "for a while" after German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a gesture to solve the issue with Greece via diplomacy.

Tensions rose when Ankara sent an exploration vessel on Monday to the eastern Mediterranean, accompanied by warships, days after Athens signed agreement on exclusive economic zone with Cairo.

Turkey has declared the Greece-Egypt deal "null and void" as it involves a contested territory.

READ MORE: Turkey declares Egypt-Greece maritime deal 'null and void'

'Political solution'

"Despite all this, we want to believe that common sense will prevail. Both on the field and at the table, we side with international law, good neighbourliness and dialogue," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told Reuters.

"We want to reach political solutions through peaceful means in line with international laws," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country wanted to build bridges with its neighbours. 

He said he hoped talks with Turkey could restart, but said "dialogue becomes irrelevant in a climate of tension".

READ MORE: Turkey to issue exploration licences in eastern Mediterranean amid tensions

Turkey to defend its 'rights'

Akar said Turkey would continue to defend its "rights, ties and interests" in coastal waters. 

"It should be known that our seas are our blue homeland. Every drop is valuable," he said.

Turkey says it has the longest coastline in the eastern Mediterranean but that it is penned into a narrow strip of waters due to the extension of Greece's continental shelf, based on the presence of many Greek islands near its shore.

READ MORE: What is a NAVTEX and why did Turkey issue one to Greece?

Akar singled out the Greek island of Kastellorizo, some 2 km off Turkey's southern coast and 570 km from the Greek mainland, as a particular source of Turkish frustration.

"Greece's demand for a 40,000 square kilometre maritime jurisdiction zone because of the 10 km square Meis island (Kastellorizo)...cannot be reconciled with any logic," he said.

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Source: Reuters