Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met at the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York. This was their second meeting in a short period of time. The previous one took place in July in Vilnius.
The meeting began shortly after 6 p.m. and lasted over an hour. On the Greek side, Foreign Affairs Minister George Gerapetritis and the head of the prime minister’s diplomatic office, Anna Maria Boura, were in attendance. The discussions occurred at the “Turkish House” within the headquarters of Ankara’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations.
During their meeting, Erdogan and Mitsotakis reaffirmed their commitment to improving Greek-Turkish relations. They endorsed a roadmap set during a previous foreign ministers’ meeting. It includes deputy foreign ministers’ discussions in October, confidence-building measures in November, and the meeting of the Supreme Cooperation Council on December 7 in Thessaloniki.
The leaders also engaged in discussions on regional and global issues, highlighting their shared concerns over the climate crisis and its impact on the Mediterranean region. Both countries, having recently faced severe natural disasters, agreed to prioritize cooperation in civil protection. Additionally, they acknowledged the common challenge of migration and pledged to work together to address it.
Mitsotakis’ Remarks on Meeting With Erdogan
After the meeting, Mitsotakis expressed optimism about the discussions, emphasizing the productive nature of their talks. He highlighted their agreement to bolster the positive momentum in Greek-Turkish relations, outlining plans for upcoming meetings, including political dialogue, Confidence Building Measures, and the positive agenda. He revealed that the next Supreme Cooperation Council will take place on December 7th in Thessaloniki.
Additionally, they delved into pressing issues such as illegal immigration and the climate crisis. Mitsotakis stressed that “Turkey’s cooperation is crucial to addressing immigration flows.” He also emphasized that climate change cooperation “holds potential for specific agreements.”
Erdogan expressed his positive expectations and hope, stating, “may our meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis be beneficial for our country and region.”
Yunanistan Başbakanı Kiryakos Miçotakis ile Türkevi’nde gerçekleştirdiğimiz görüşme ülkemiz ve bölgemiz için hayırlara vesile olsun. pic.twitter.com/kvf8TAWAKJ
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) September 20, 2023
Mitsotakis’ Statements in an Interview With CNN
Before his meeting with Erdogan, Mitsotakis spoke to CNN. He pointed out that even though Greece and Turkey “have perennial difficulties,” this does not mean that they cannot cooperate in other areas.
Mitsotakis emphasized the importance of addressing differences through international law and maritime regulations and highlighted common challenges such as civil protection and climate change. He expressed his commitment to cooperation despite territorial disputes, stating, “We can agree to disagree on territorial matters.”
Regarding the Greek economy, Mitsotakis noted its strong performance, especially in tourism, despite challenges such as the floods and wildfires. He made mention of the need for increased EU spending to combat climate change and admitted he is determined to push for greater financial commitment from the EU to address this critical issue.
When questioned about the impact of extreme weather on tourism, Mitsotakis remained optimistic, stating that “there will always be people who want to enjoy the Mediterranean sun, in the summer of Greece.” On top of this, he also noted the prolonging of the tourist season.