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Mitsotakis to Meet Erdogan in New York on September 20

Erdogan Mitsotakis
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in July. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20, his office announced on Thursday.

The last time the two leaders met was on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Lithuania back in July.

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.

Earlier in September Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said said that Turkey has entered a new and positive era in its relations with Greece, during a meeting with his Greek counterpart Giorgos Gerapetritis in Ankara.

“Ankara and Athens have differences of opinion in the Aegean and Mediterranean. The sides now must bring a new approach to solving their problems,” Fidan told reporters.

On his part, Gerapetritis spoke about “the climate of optimism” that allows for the de-escalation of tension between the two countries.

“We want relations to continue on the basis of cordial coexistence and tolerance with mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs,” added Gerapetritis.

Erdogan has sent a letter to his Greek counterpart, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, to express solidarity in the wake of the devastating wildfires and floods that have struck Greece over the past month.

According to an announcement from the Greek president’s office on Wednesday, Erdogan expressed condolences for the victims of the fires and floods.

He also said that Turkey stands ready to help its neighbor in these difficult times, the announcement said.

Can the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting further improve relations?

Despite being NATO allies, Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over a number of bilateral squabbles, including quarrels over maritime boundaries, overlapping claims to their continental shelves and the long-running Cyprus dispute.

Erdogan cut off all bilateral talks with Greece after Mitsotakis urged U.S. lawmakers in May 2022 to block arms sales to Turkey.

Military provocations soon soared, creating the most volatile situation since the two sides almost came to blows in 2020. Erdogan has hinted he could snatch a Greek island overnight and even appeared to threaten Athens with a missile.

But a prompt reaction by Greece to the devastating earthquakes in Turkey in February created a new backdrop for bilateral relations.

Greece responded to the earthquakes by quickly dispatching aid, most notably provided by EMAK, a specialist disaster relief unit that is part of the Hellenic Fire Service.

The natural disaster also prompted Mitsotakis and  Erdogan to have a direct conversation for the first time since March 2022.

Airspace violations by Turkey over the Aegean Sea have ceased since then.

Related: Earthquake Diplomacy Sparks Hopes of Normalization Between Greece and Turkey

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