Germany calls on Greece and Turkey to avoid clash

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," he said after talks in Athens with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias. "Every little spark can lead to catastrophe."

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu responded that Ankara was ready for EU mediation between Turkey and Greece "without preconditions", Ekathimerini wrote. Çavuşoğlu also said Greece must abandon its "maximalist approach" and pre-conditions for dialogue to begin over disputed offshore Mediterranean resources. He gave his comments during a press conference with German foreign minister Heiko Maas, who visited both capitals.

"Further escalation can only harm all sides, but above all those directly involved on site," Maas said, as he set off on his trip to the two countries on Tuesday. Maas, who is holding the talks in the hopes of de-escalating the situation, said Germany and its EU partners supported Greece in its dispute with Turkey. 

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 EU 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.

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