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Greece Expects Mitsotakis-Erdogan Summit to Focus on Positive Agenda

Mitsotakis Erdogan
The establishment of a climate of dialogue with Turkey is Greece’s goal. File photo. Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Greece is expecting that the meeting between Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in Athens will focus on advancing a positive agenda in relations with Turkey, the government spokesman said.

“We are looking forward to another significant step for the establishment of a climate of dialogue,” Pavlos Marinakis stressed.

“Our only difference is the delimitation of the continental shelf and of the Exclusive Economic Zone,” he added. “We are going to the meeting without any intention of backing down from our sovereign rights, [and] our differences are set, but these should not produce any crises.”

Greece places special emphasis on a positive agenda that, it says, is mutually beneficial. As part of their bilateral meeting, Mitsotakis and Erdogan are expected to discuss the next steps in the relations and contacts of the two countries based on the three points agreed upon during their meeting in Vilnius last July: political dialogue, confidence building measures, and positive agenda.

Greece-Turkey High-Level Cooperation Council meets in Athens

Parallel to the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting, ministers and diplomats from the two countries will participate in the fifth Greece-Turkey High-Level Cooperation Council, where agreements and memoranda are expected to be signed in the fields of economic and commercial cooperation, health, education, tourism, sports, and research/technology as well as rural development.

Earlier in the week, the US Department of State hailed the convening of the Greece-Turkey High-Level Cooperation Council.

“We are encouraged by the upcoming meeting…The United States supports bilateral discussions at all levels so that Greece and Turkiye can work together to promote peace, security, and prosperity in the region,” a Department of State spokesperson said. “The United States continues to encourage calm in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean among our NATO Allies.”

Erdogan sees a “new page” in relations before the Mitsotakis meeting

On the eve of his visit to Athens, Erdogan spoke of his vision for a “new page” in bilateral ties based on the principle of “win-win.”

In an exclusive interview with Greek daily Kathimerini, he referred to Mitsotakis as “my friend Kyriakos,” and he said, “We don’t threaten you if you don’t threaten us.” He emphasized that “no challenge is insurmountable through dialogue grounded in mutual goodwill.”

Regarding the prospect of reaching an agreement on referring the continental shelf issue to the International Court of Justice, Erdogan is of the opinion that any potential appeal should encompass additional matters.

“There are many interconnected problems that need to be solved in addition to the continental shelf,” he asserted. “We have to address them comprehensively.”

This is something that Greece rejects as Marinakis made clear. “Greece will resort to the judgment of the International Court of Justice for the delimitation of the continental shelf and of the Exclusive Economic Zone, nothing more,” he said.

The Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting takes place at a time when Turkey’s aggressive rhetoric has subsided. There have been almost zero overflights in the Aegean following last February’s devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Greece’s offer of assistance.

Dimitris Kairidis, the Greek minister for migration, said late Tuesday that the number of migrants arriving on Greece’s islands illegally had dropped by about sixty percent over the past two months thanks in large part to better coordination with Turkey’s coast guard.

“There was a time when the Turkish authorities did not react and let the boats through,” Kairidis told state television. “Now the cooperation is much better.”

Related: Turkey’s Challenge of Greece’s Sovereignty Illustrated in 16 Maps

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