01:05 GMT16 January 2021
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    ATHENS (Sputnik) - The Greece Foreign Ministry and governmental spokesman, Stelios Petsas, on Thursday refuted media reports that Athens held secret negotiations with Ankara ahead of a European Council summit, which is focused on sanctions against Turkey over its drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean.

    According to Petsas, the newspaper Dimokratia's report was not correct.

    "There was no conversation between the diplomatic adviser to the prime minister, Eleni Sourani, and the Turkish presidential spokesman regarding the resumption of probing contacts", he said in a statement published by the prime minister's office.

    The foreign ministry also said that on Wednesday, Dendias "once again in recent days" worked with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his diplomatic adviser on foreign policy in connection with the European Council meeting.

    FILE PHOTO: Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis sails in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, October 3, 2018. Picture taken October 3, 2018
    © REUTERS / YORUK ISIK
    FILE PHOTO: Turkish seismic research vessel Oruc Reis sails in the Bosphorus in Istanbul, Turkey, October 3, 2018. Picture taken October 3, 2018
    "The issue of resuming investigative talks with Turkey has not been raised and does not exist until the neighbouring country demonstrates a change in its behaviour through concrete actions, as well as avoiding provocations in the long term", the ministry said in a separate statement, adding that the media report did not correspond with the reality.

    In July, the Greek public was outraged with negotiations between Sourani and Kalin held in secrecy in Berlin, which took place although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque. While Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that the officials held negotiations, the Greek government said these were officials' contacts, not talks.

    The negotiations, according to Greek politicians, could have been the reason why only seven countries backed Athens' proposal to immediately introduce sanctions against Ankara over its drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean during a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in July, while 19 nations opposed the initiative.

    Earlier in the day, Greece's Dimokratia newspaper reported that shortly before the summit, the head of the Greek Prime Minister's Diplomatic Office, Eleni Sourani, called Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and proposed starting a Greek-Turkish dialogue. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias reportedly was not aware of anything. The newspaper called it "national submission" ahead of a "critical summit".

    Tags:
    EU summit, EU summit, EU Summit, Turkey, Greece
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