Germany mounts East Med crisis diplomacy

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visits Nicosia and Athens on Tuesday for talks as developments in the Eastern Mediterranean point to an escalation of tension.

Maas arrives in Cyprus at noon where he will be received by President Nicos Anastasiades and hold talks with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides.

Later Tuesday he will travel to Athens for meetings with the Greek Prime Minister and the Greek Foreign Minister.

The German Foreign Minister decided not to visit Ankara but did not elaborate as to why.

Regarding the activities of Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis in the Aegean Sea, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said if the vessel proceeds to operate in the area, this would be a sad development and not a clever move.

He added that this would be a blow to efforts to de-escalate the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean and to the efforts to improve EU-Turkey relations.

Seibert reiterated Germany’s stance that it is necessary for all to refrain from actions that escalate the situation and resolve all open issues, like the delimitation of maritime boundaries, through dialogue and in the framework of international law.

Greece has denounced Turkey’s new illegal activities in the Greek continental shelf, south of the Greek island of Kastelorizo.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias told his EU counterparts in Luxembourg that Ankara is acting in violation of international law and against all conclusions of the European Council, disrupting peace and stability in the region.

Nicosia has also voiced its displeasure that Turkey has announced the Oruc Reis will also operate inside Cyprus waters despite the bloc urging Turkey not to take any unilateral step that edge near toward conflict rather than resolution