Latest news from the Eastern Mediterranean front

Greece and Turkey have agreed to resume “exploratory contacts”

September 22, 2020
Greece and Turkey have agreed to resume exploratory contacts in Istanbul, the Greek Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday afternoon, however without specifying the date.
The two countries “have agreed to hold the 61st round of exploratory contacts in Istanbul, in the near future,” the ministry said in a surprisingly brief statement.
Exploratory contacts between the two countries started in 2020 and were suspended in March 2016 by Turkey.

Turkey’s sanctions block EU FMs from imposing sanctions against Belarus

September 21, 2020
European Union foreign ministers failed to overcome a diplomatic standoff over Belarus sanctions on Monday due to lack of unanimity. Belarus main opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya travelled to Brussels to try to convince the EU to follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on some 40 Belarusian officials over the disputed Aug. 9 vote.
“Although there is a clear will to adopt the sanctions, the required unanimity was not reached,” the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, who chaired the meeting of foreign ministers, told reporters, referring to EU rules that all 27 states must agree.
Cyprus has said it can only agree to the Belarusian sanctions when the EU also imposes sanctions on its neighbour, Turkey, in a separate row that has raised tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Pompeo Says US “Deeply Concerned” by Turkey’s Actions in Cyprus Visit

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo expressed his concern about Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean after a meeting in Nicosia on Saturday with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
“We remain deeply concerned about Turkey’s ongoing operations searching for natural resources in areas over which Greece and Cyprus assert jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Pompeo stated.
The top American diplomat stressed that the relationship between Washington and Nicosia “has never been better” and noted his decision on September 1 to temporarily waive export controls on direct commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles and services to Cyprus.

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