Italy urges easing of tensions, dialogue in eastern Mediterranean

Italy urges easing of tensions, dialogue in eastern Mediterranean

On a visit to Cyprus on Thursday, Italy's defence minister Lorenzo Guerini called for "constructive dialogue" with Turkey amid a simmering row with Greece over energy resources and maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean.

"The recent European Council gave impetus to the dialogue process. This approach coincides with the position that Italy strongly supports: a solution can only be reached by dialogue and the firm rule of international law," Guerini said.

After a summit of European Union leaders last week, the bloc warned it could impose sanctions on Turkey in the dispute in which Athens has accused Ankara of illegally carrying out seismic exploration in parts of the Mediterranean claimed by Greece and Cyprus, but Turkey says its operations are within international law.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey - both Nato members - rose earlier this year when Turkey sent a ship into a disputed area to search for potentially rich oil and gas deposits. Turkey withdrew the exploration vessel from contested waters in mid-September "to allow for diplomacy" ahead of the EU summit.