NATO helps Greece, Turkey agree steps to avoid conflict

BRUSSELS (AP) — Greece and Turkey agreed Thursday to safety measures aimed at preventing standoffs between their warships and military aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea from breaking out into open conflict, NATO said.

Tensions between the neighbors and alliance members ran high for several weeks in the eastern Mediterranean, where Turkey was prospecting the seabed for potential energy reserves in an area Greece claims as its own continental shelf. But things have eased in recent days.

NATO headquarters said in a statement that the new measures include the setting up of a hotline between Greece and Turkey for use between senior officials should confrontations arise. No further details were provided.

“This safety mechanism can help to create the space for diplomatic efforts to address the underlying dispute and we stand ready to develop it further. I will remain in close contact with both allies,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in the statement.

Talks on the measures got off to a rocky start last month, with Greece refusing to even acknowledge that they were underway, and both sides arguing over what steps should be taken.

The NATO talks are completely separate from diplomatic efforts led by Germany to help bring a permanent end to the eastern Mediterranean dispute.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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