The leaders of Greece and Turkey, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met in Brussels on Monday, in what Greek officials described as an “ice-breaking” meeting.
The two leaders met privately, with only two interpreters present, on the sidelines of the NATO Summit.
Greek sources said that the meeting, lasting more than an hour, was held in a “positive climate.” They added that the two leaders agreed “to leave behind the tension of 2020, despite the very important disagreements that exist.”
Earlier, Mitsotakis said that he was open to a positive agenda when he meets Erdogan.
Speaking at the EU Mediterranean countries ministerial meeting (EU-Med7) held in Athens, he stated that Greece is always open to a positive agenda with Turkey “but in a gradual, proportionate and reversible fashion.”
He also stressed that this was conditional to “the current de-escalation continuing and on Turkey participating in the dialogue in a constructive way, respecting the terms set by the EU, always in accordance with international law, including the UN Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
The Turkish President is expected to give a press conference later, where he is also expected to refer to his meeting with Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The Greek leader is not expected to make a statement on the meeting.
Earlier, speaking at an event of the German Marshall Fund, on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Erdogan appeared conciliatory towards Greece describing the country as a NATO ally.
He stated that the resumption of the dialogue between Greece and Turkey and the resolution of “bilateral issues,” as he said, will serve stability and prosperity in the region.
Erdogan added that Turkey “respects international law, justice and equality, mutual rights and interests in our relations with our neighbors.
“I believe that the revival of the dialogue between Turkey and its neighbor and ally, Greece, as well as the resolution of bilateral issues, will also serve stability and prosperity in the region.”
Mitsotakis says Greece a pillar of stability
Greece is a pillar of stability in the Southeastern Mediterranean, Mitsotakis underlined at his arrival at the NATO Summit in Brussels on Monday.
As it emerges stronger from the economic crisis of the previous decade, it is ready to make higher investments in its military capacity and show itself even better able to comply with its obligations to the Alliance,” he added.
Greece presses UK on British vacationers
Mitsotakis had a meeting with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, before the start of the NATO Summit in Brussels. Mitsotakis briefed him there on the improving coronavirus epidemiological picture in Greece.
He expressed the view that this permits a lifting of restrictions for British tourists visiting the country on holiday, and asked that the UK not discriminate between different European countries.
The Greek Prime Minister also briefed Johnson on recent developments in Greek-Turkish relations, and stressed the need for the de-escalation in tension so as to establish trust and allow dialogue.
With respect to the Cyprus issue, he underlined that the next steps for a resumption of talks can be agreed on only within the given framework, which is binding for all the parties involved, of the UN Security Council resolutions calling for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.