The work of the NATO Defense Ministers’ Meeting was completed in the afternoon with the press conference given by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Asked by a reporter regarding the rumors of a moratorium on military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, Stoltenberg confirmed that Greece and Turkey had decided to cancel their military exercises scheduled for next week, with their national holidays approaching. Stoltenberg welcomed the decision and praised once again the flexibility and constructive approach shown by Greece and Turkey, adding that the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean was discussed both yesterday at the Summit as well as today, with the Allies expressing strong support for NATO’s deterrence mechanism. Stoltenberg welcomed the move to take concrete steps in this direction with the cancellation of military exercises, and expressed hope that this decision would help reduce tensions, as this would eliminate the possibility of an incident or accident and could pave the way for negotiations on this issue. He also welcomed Germany’s efforts to facilitate the launch of these negotiations, reiterating his call for the avoidance of inflammatory statements in order to further reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Asked about the continued presence of the Oruc Reis drillship near Kastelorizo, the NATO Secretary General stressed that what was primarily important was to avoid any actions that would worsen the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, noting that, while he can not take a position on the legal dimension of the issue, the non-conduct of seismic surveys had a positive impact on the situation. He reiterated the flexibility shown by Greece and Turkey in setting up the mechanism and stressed that the announcement made by the two countries to cancel their military exercises in the region is a step in the right direction and helps reduce the risk of incidents or accidents. /ibna