Gas dispute: after the escalation now dialogue?

After tensions between Greece and Turkey escalated into threatening military gestures, Ankara has suspended its exploratory drilling for gas in the eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish drilling ship 'Oruc Reis' has returned to the port of Antalya and Greece has withdrawn several naval vessels. According to media reports, talks have already begun between Ankara and Athens. The media nod their approval.

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Milliyet (TR) /

Negotiations are the only sensible step

Milliyet explains the underlying reasons for the current Turkish-Greek tensions:

“Turkey defends its right to seismic research by arguing that the sea off the coast is not part of the islands but of the Anatolian mainland. Greece, on the other hand, claims that it has sovereign rights around its islands (including the island of Kastelorizo, which is only two miles from Turkey). These opposing positions arise from the unique geography of the Aegean, a sea of islands. According to Greece, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea grants its right to the islands ... Turkey was one of four countries that did not sign this convention back then. ... ... However, the convention recommends that the parties should negotiate in cases of conflict. This is exactly what they are doing now.”

Kathimerini (GR) /

Put the good of the country above all else

Now the government in Athens needs the backing of its citizens, explains Kathimerini:

“When Greece enters into a dialogue with Turkey - with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the key role of mediator - everyone in Greece must seize this opportunity. Political parties should not try to exploit the situation to their own advantage. Relations with Turkey are too important for that. They are much more important than personalities, parties and governments. Unlike the name dispute [over Macedonia] they have existential consequences. One government's mistake will make the work of the next much more difficult and ultimately damage the country. Therefore everyone with a sense of patriotic duty must support the government.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Cyprus won't want to be left out

Now Nicosia will also seek dialogue with Ankara, the Cyprus Mail suspects:

“Perhaps Greece has decided that dialogue offers a better way of resolving its difference with Turkey than the imposing of sanctions, which many EU member-states are skeptical about and the German [EU Council] presidency opposes as it would destroy its plans for a Turkey-EU dialogue on a broad range of issues, including immigration. ... Difficult as it may be to accept, the reality is that the EU, like the UN and most other states, rightly or wrongly, accept Turkey's position that a Cyprus settlement would resolve the disputes over the Cypriot EEZ. Greece chose dialogue over sanctions, and there will be pressure on Cyprus to do the same, before long.”

To Vima (GR) /

Ankara can do as it pleases

The EU, Nato and the US are leaving Athens in the lurch in the face of these provocations, To Vima criticises:

“For some years now Greece's calls for sanctions against Turkey have fallen on deaf ears. Our European partners do not seem moved by the Greek reactions to Turkey's mounting provocations. At best, they limit themselves to general, lukewarm recommendations. ... All parties - the EU, Nato and the US - are pursuing a policy of appeasement for their own reasons, the results of which we see every day. Erdoğan is taking advantage of the passivity of the great powers and the far-reaching changes on the global geopolitical chessboard and doing pretty much as he pleases.”

Polityka (PL) /

Erdoğan wants to boost his waning popularity

The Turkish president is once again resorting to nationalist rhetoric and actions in order to maintain his grip on power, Polityka observes:

“Why does Erdoğan support such ideas? Because he sees them as a way of saving his own skin. Contrary to appearances, his political dominance in Turkey was based more on astonishing economic success than on his conservative policies. This is clearly visible today because since the economic problems began the popularity of Erdoğan and his party has dwindled significantly. Cool calculations play a key role: Erdoğan wouldn't have won the last two elections if it hadn't been for his alliance with the nationalists against whom he fought at the start of his term in office.”