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Mitsotakis and Erdogan Agree to Meet at NATO Summit

erdogan Mitsotakis
Mitsotakis and Erdogan last held an in-person meeting in Istanbul in March 2022. Credit: Turkish Presidency

Just a day after his electoral victory, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reportedly agreed to meet with his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at an upcoming summit next month.

In recent years, tensions between Greece and Turkey had escalated, largely due to defense and security concerns in the Aegean. However, since February this year, bilateral relations have seen some notable improvement.

In line with this trend, Mitsotakis received a phone call from Erdogan congratulating him on his win at the election. Previously, the two national leaders were not even on talking terms, emblematic of the severe breakdown of fruitful political discourse between the two countries. The scheduled meeting is perhaps an indicator that relations will continue to thaw.

Mitsotakis and Erdogan to meet in July

According to a statement issued by the office of the Greek prime minister on Monday, Mitsotakis and Erdogan have agreed to meet at the NATO summit scheduled to take place in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania on July 11 and 12.

Confirmation of the phone call was made by both sides, with the Communication Directorate of the Turkish Presidency also releasing an official statement that read “President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Mitsotakis on his success in the election and wished the new period to be beneficial for Turkey/Greece relations. During communication, It was noted that the presence of strong governments in both countries is an opportunity for the future of bilateral relations.“

With historically high tension simmering in recent months, largely due to the so-called earthquake diplomacy which ensued after parts of Turkey were leveled by tremors in February, both leaders have expressed a desire to meet with one another. However, this was delayed by elections in both Greece and Turkey.

An improvement in bilateral relations?

The meeting of the two leaders may signal a potential improvement in bilateral relations between Athens and Ankara.

The last time Mitstotakis and Erdogan met in person was reportedly in March last year. Bilateral relations between the two countries were so poor that the two leaders did not speak until Turkey was struck by earthquakes in February 2023 and Mitstotakis picked up the phone to express his condolences and offer the support of Greek emergency responders.

Several important topics will likely be on the agenda when the pair meet in Vilnius next month, such as military and commercial navigation in the Aegean, Cyprus, and the Muslim minority in Thrace. More broadly, talks will also probably turn to pressing geopolitical issues such as the ongoing security crisis in Russia and the war in Ukraine.

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