January is expected to be a month of developments in Greek-Turkish relations, with Athens reportedly eyeing a possible restart of exploratory talks with Ankara.
Sources tell Kathimerini that Athens has received assurances that Ankara will desist from gas and oil exploration and other actions seen as challenging Greek sovereignty in the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean and is now waiting for Ankara to make the first move, as the first meeting towards a resumption of talks would take place in Turkey.
However, despite reported assurances that Turkey’s Oruç Reis seismic survey vessel would remain in Turkish waters over the coming weeks, making an overture more possible, Athens remains cautious in the wake of several controversial remarks last month by high-ranking Turkish government officials. These include Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez calling for a renegotiation of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty delimiting the borders between the two countries, and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar’s repeated demands for the demilitarisation of several Greek islands. The recent arrest of a Turkish diplomat on espionage charges on the Greek island of Rhodes has not helped either.
Nevertheless, Athens believes that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will ultimately choose the path of diplomacy, first as a result of Joe Biden being sworn in as president of the United States on Jan. 20 and, secondly, in light of March’s scheduled European Council summit, where possible sanctions against Turkey are one of the key items on the agenda.