In an effort to resume talks between Greece and Turkey, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias met on Thursday the leader of the country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.
The visit is the first between the two nations after tensions rose to a fever pitch in 2020 over maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, leading to a military buildup that featured warships from the two countries facing off.
Before the meetings in the Turkish capital, Dendias has said that he is not over-optimistic, but at least the two countries must be able to speak, in the context of logic and law.
Need for Greece – Turkey dialogue
“Because if we are to speak in the context of arbitrariness, we do not need to speak,” the Foreign Minister stressed.
At the same time, he has stated in the past that Greece is not afraid of dialogue and that it is in favor of a constructive dialogue based on fundamental principles, such as international law.
Cavusoglu told Turkish TV that the two men will discuss all disagreements, emphasizing the importance of maintaining an open dialogue.
“Of course, it is not possible to resolve all of the issues in one meeting – or in multiple meetings – but at least a positive atmosphere (is being) created and we can work out the ways in which we can resolve the existing problems.”
“There are issues on which we disagree with Greece. We have to discuss these in an open and honest manner,” he added.
Dendias’ visit to Ankara is the first visit of a high-ranking Greek minister to Turkey in more than two years.
Yet recently, the two NATO allies have adopted a more conciliatory tone and have been seeking dialogue.
Turkish and Greek diplomats have since met in Istanbul and Athens, resuming a series of meetings designed to build trust between the historic regional rivals. The exploratory talks came after a five-year hiatus.
Erdogan provokes Greece on eve of meetings
In a statement made a few hours before the meetings, Erdogan claimed that Turkey has shown good will on the Cyprus issue and has withdrawn its ships for maintenance.
He then warned, however: “We will not allow the rights of northern Cyprus to be usurped. If necessary we will intervene. Our ships are ready to sail at the moment. If they need to take steps, they will. We do not avoid talks, as long as they know that they must respect Turkey.”
Erdogan also touched on Libya a few hours after Greece announced that it has agreed with the Arab country to hold talks for marking out their respective maritime zones in the Mediterranean.
“We in the eastern Mediterranean made our big leap with the agreement we made with Libya. On the issue of Libya, Turkey has shown its determination on both the issue of seismic surveys and drilling. We can also do seismic surveys and drillings there. Greece was annoyed because it does not have such ships. But Greece does not have rights in the region as we do,” the Turkish President said.