Germany’s Maas calls on Greece and Turkey to avoid ‘catastrophe’

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged the two countries to solve their dispute over rights to a resource-rich area of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. He likened the situation to “playing with fire.”

Aug. 25, 2020

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Greek and Turkish leaders on Tuesday to solve their dispute over overlapping resource claims in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, citing the risk of a military confrontation.

“The current situation in the eastern Mediterranean is equivalent to playing with fire,” said Maas after talks in Athens with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. “Every little spark can lead to catastrophe.”

NATO allies Greece and Turkey are in the middle of a dispute over maritime borders in an area believed to be rich in hydrocarbon resources. Greece and the European Union say Turkey’s drilling for oil and natural gas in the region is illegal, while Turkey says that the area is within its exclusive economic zone.

The escalating tension has raised concerns of conflict between the two rivals, which have come to the brink of war three times since the mid-1970s, including once over prospecting rights in the Aegean Sea.

“Further escalation can only harm all sides, but above all those directly involved on site,” he said, as he set off on his trip to the two countries on Tuesday.