Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Sunday afternoon.
Mitsotakis first arrived in Istanbul on Sunday morning, attending church services with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at Saint George Cathedral, one of the most important churches in Orthodox Christianity.
Erdogan then hosted his Greek counterpart for lunch at his presidential residence, during which the pair discussed pressing issues of foreign policy and diplomacy for nearly two hours.
Mitsotakis and Erdogan make strides
As confirmed by the Turkish Presidency, the two leaders focused much of their discussion on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has stunned Europe and the world. Both Greece and Turkey have denounced the war.
The pair agreed to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The goal of both leaders is to provide stability in the region at this time.
They also agreed that the two countries should work toward better communication in the future and avoid provocative rhetoric.
The neighboring countries will also aim to strengthen their economic bonds, with Turkish President Erdogan even suggesting that the two continue their conversation on the topic during another meeting in the coming months.
Video of the two leaders before their meal showed Erdogan and Mitsotakis having a friendly conversation, aided by an interpreter. Neither of the leaders wore a tie, highlighting the casual tone of the meeting.
Before the meeting, Mitsotakis stated that he had “realistic and measured expectations from today’s conversation,” indicating that the meeting was not meant to mend the rocky relationship between the two countries, but to foster better understanding and cooperation.
Yet it seems that the meeting may have laid the groundwork for a period of better relations between the two countries which share a long and turbulent history. Rather than as enemies, the two leaders approached the conversation as allies.
Later in the afternoon, Mitsotakis will meet with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew yet again at the Greek consulate in the Turkish city.