US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed Washington’s support for exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Brussels on Wednesday.
“I look forward to continued cooperation with our NATO Ally Turkey on counterterrorism, voiced our support for exploratory talks with Greece, and emphasized the importance of democracy and human rights,” Blinken said in a tweet after the meeting.
I met with @MevlutCavusoglu today in Brussels. I look forward to continued cooperation with our NATO Ally Turkey on counterterrorism, voiced our support for exploratory talks with Greece, and emphasized the importance of democracy and human rights. pic.twitter.com/OzVPVvhwGp
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 24, 2021
Cavusoglu said he had “constructive” talks with his US counterpart on all aspects of Turkey-US ties, in their first face-to-face meeting since Joe Biden was elected US president.
Blinken and Cavusoglu met at NATO headquarters in Brussels and discussed a dispute over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 defense systems and conflicts in Syria and Libya, as well as the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
However, stern words came out of the meeting as confirmed by State Department spokesman Ned Price in a statement, also released on Monday after the meeting.
“Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu discussed the longstanding importance of security cooperation between the United States and Turkey, including our shared interests in Syria and Afghanistan,” Price noted.
Turkey urged “not to retain” Russian missile system
The spokesman went on to say that “The Secretary voiced support for ongoing exploratory talks between NATO Allies Turkey and Greece.
“Secretary Blinken urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 air defense system, expressed concern over Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, and emphasized the importance of democratic institutions and respect for human rights.”
The 62nd bilateral “exploratory talks” between Greek and Turkish officials were concluded in Athens last week.
The talks, which lasted four hours, were led by the same veteran career civil servants who were at the 61st round, in Istanbul: Ambassador Pavlos Apostolidis, who also served as head of the National Intelligence Agency, and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal.
Greece says that the contacts are being carried out on the basis of international law and especially the Law of the Sea, and always for the benefit of both peoples, including the gradual normalization of bilateral relations.
Officials add that the normalization can take place in all areas of activity, without any compromise on issues of national sovereignty and sovereign rights.
The contacts between Greece and Turkey are informal talks, and not negotiations, Athens insists.
They aim to explore points of convergence for possible future negotiations regarding the delimitation of continental shelves and the EEZ in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.