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Naval drills in tense eastern Mediterranean ‘not helpful’: German defense minister

Published: Updated:

Germany on Wednesday criticized naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean as “not helpful” in easing tensions between Greece and Turkey who are at odds over gas and maritime borders.

“What we have to find is a starting point for us to enter once again into political discussions and negotiations,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said after talks with her EU counterparts in Berlin.

“The maneuvers that took place today are certainly not helpful,” she added.

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Germany is trying to mediate between Ankara and Athens to get talks back on track to avoid further escalation.

Kramp-Karrenbauer’s comments came after Greece began three days of war games on Wednesday with France, Italy and Cyprus, while Turkey conducted drills with the US navy nearby.

Tensions began escalating when Turkey sent the Oruc Reis research vessel, accompanied by warships, into disputed waters on August 10.

The EU has repeatedly condemned Turkey for carrying out exploratory drilling off Cyprus, but has held back from major punitive sanctions against Ankara for fear of alienating a strategically important neighbor.

EU foreign ministers will discuss the bloc’s overall relations with Turkey during an informal meeting in Berlin on Thursday and Friday.

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