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Mitsotakis and Erdogan Meet at NATO Summit

Mitsotakis Erdogan Greece Turkey
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands before their meeting in Lithuania. Credit: AMNA

A meeting between the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan was held on Wednesday afternoon on the margins of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The two leaders agreed that the positive climate in the bilateral relations in recent months should have both “continuity and consistency” as this would be in the interests of the two countries.

It was agreed that both sides should build on the positive momentum and activate multiple channels of communication between the two countries in the near future.

They also agreed that the next meeting of Greece-Turkey High-level Cooperation Council will be held in Thessaloniki in the autumn and instructed the two foreign ministers to guide the process and brief the leaders on its progress.

Mitsotakis noted that he is looking forward to more frequent contacts at all levels, in order to build a climate of trust and the conditions that will lead to an improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey.

According to the to Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA), Greek government sources noted that Erdogan, at the start of the meeting, pointed out the existence of a new cabinet in both countries, with Mitsotakis stressing that the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers have already spoken and have “good contact and cooperation.”

The same sources stated that the head of the Turkish secret services, Ibrahim Kalin, was also present at the start of the meeting between the two leaders and that he congratulated the Greek prime minister on his re-election. In turn, Mitsotakis congratulated Kalin on assuming his new duties.

Mistotakis-Erdogan meeting part of efforts to revive relations

Analysts described the meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan as an effort to revive bilateral relations, with the United States playing a pivotal role as a catalyst.

The aim is to create favorable conditions for a high-level political settlement between Greece and Turkey within a new framework.

This framework entails establishing new armament balances in the Aegean, engaging in negotiations to address disputes, and, in any case, fostering a stable atmosphere in this crucial region for NATO in the eastern Mediterranean.

There is guarded optimism in Athens, according to AMNA, that the window that has opened can be used to initially take steps to consolidate the positive atmosphere in Greek-Turkish relations and, in a second phase, to start discussions on the resolution of existing issues – but not those that Ankara has put on the table at the expense of Greek sovereign rights.

On Tuesday evening, Erdogan met US President Joe Biden on the margins of the NATO summit.

The pair met after a breakthrough was made in negotiations surrounding Sweden’s NATO membership bid. Turkey had previously prevented Sweden from joining, but Erdogan has now agreed to give Swedish accession his support.

The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, defense, and security, as well as Washington’s decision to allow the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara after months of diplomatic wrangling.

Not much of the meeting has been made public, since the pair discussed important defense and security issues. The NATO summit takes place against the backdrop of the continued war in Ukraine, which has been the alliance’s focus since Russia invaded in February last year.

The Turkish president later commented on Twitter “In our meeting, we discussed our bilateral relations and cooperation opportunities in the field of security. I wish our contacts to be beneficial for our country.”

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