Tension over exploration of the eastern Mediterranean is creating an internal conflict within NATO, with new countries joining in, such as Italy, the United States and France

NATO calls on Greece and Turkey for dialogue in Brussels

PHOTO/AFP - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants to stop the escalation of tension between Athens and Ankara. He has therefore announced a technical dialogue at Atlantic Alliance headquarters in Brussels in the coming weeks. The main aim of these meetings is to defuse a tension that is fuelling old geopolitical warfare ghosts. The two countries will sit down to establish bilaterally "mechanisms for reducing military conflict" and "reducing the risk of accidents" in the eastern Mediterranean.

Over the past summer, the eastern Mediterranean area has been the scene of growing tensions owing to Turkey's militarised prospecting activities in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. In addition, recent weeks have seen an increase in international military activity, as France and Italy deployed more naval presence in the area in defence of Athens


Nor does the United States wish to be left behind and has entered the conflict by announcing the decision to partially lift the arms embargo on Cyprus that had been in force since 1987. This issue has also been discussed at length at meetings of the European Union's Foreign Affairs Council, which has even threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if it does not cease its intimidation and open up to diplomatic mediation before the end of this month.

Finally, it seems that it will not be necessary, according to NATO, the talks have already begun. Stoltenberg has assumed personal responsibility for bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion. "Both are valuable allies and NATO is an important platform for consultations on matters affecting common security. I will continue to work closely with the Allies concerned to find a solution to the tensions, in line with the spirit of NATO solidarity," the Atlantic Alliance Secretary General underlined.

Mitsotakis reluctant to negotiate for fear of blackmail

The Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has stressed that Greece wants a dialogue "without blackmail" and maintains that Turkey is breaking all the rules of the United Nations Charter by maintaining a rhetoric that distorts history and alters geography with movements that endanger security throughout the Mediterranean. These statements are in response to the signing at the end of 2019 between Libya and Turkey to control Libya's maritime territory by establishing a kind of maritime "corridor" in the eastern Mediterranean.

Marina turca

The control of the territory allowed Ankara to control the movement of vessels in natural gas tanks. Neither the United Nations nor Greece approved this agreement, but Erdogan went ahead with the initiative by sending exploration and drilling ships. A Turkish seismic vessel and a drilling vessel have been operating since early summer at sea between Cyprus and Crete in areas that Turkey claims as an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but which overlap with the declared EEZs of Greece and Cyprus.

The summer has continued an unprecedented escalation of military tension that could end in conflict if NATO-sponsored talks do not begin. NATO made it clear on Friday that the technical dialogue at military level between Greece and Turkey within NATO is already under way and has separated this process from the Union's diplomatic effort to bring Athens and Ankara to resolve their differences over the eastern Mediterranean.

Caza griego

For its part, the Turkish foreign ministry has issued a statement expressing its hope that the talks between Greece and Turkey will be fruitful. Turkey appears to want to defuse the situation, but its actions point to the opposite. This year, it is already present in several big international conflicts. Between the Mediterranean conflict, its involvement in the Libyan war together with Fayez Sarraj's government of National Unity, the challenge to the Arab coalition in Yemen, migratory tensions with Europe and the territorial bites it is attempting to give during the Syrian conflict, it is becoming the focus of many attention. The Ottoman country seems to want to recover its former empire and is making the NATO states nervous.