A secret meeting between officials from Turkey, Greece and Germany was held in Berlin, three days after President Tayyip Erdogan decided to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
The meeting allegedly brokered by Berlin was held before the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday and it was reveled Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusogly on Tuesday.
Present at the meeting were Erdogan’s advisor Ibrahim Kalin, Mitsotakis’ European Affairs advisor Eleni Sourani and Merkel’s foreign policy advisor Jan Hecker.
Greek government sources confirmed the meeting without revealing a lot about the purpose and the content.
The results of Foreign Affairs Council meeting confirm that the Greek positions are accepted and that the Turkish side is called to de-escalate the provocative actions, the sources told media.
“In any case, the channels of communication need to remain open, especially in times of crisis,” the same sources noted.
The role of Germany
According to Greek media, there was a scheduled meeting between Hecker and Sourani on Monday about the EU Coronavirus Recovery Plan. Ankara’s representative Kalin, who was in the German capital joined in and it is still unclear whether his participation was a surprise one or in previous coordination with the Greek side.
It is not clear whether the Greek representative took the green light to accept Kalin’s participation from the Greek Foreign Ministry or the Prime Minister’s office.
But the Greek side implies that the meeting was brokered upon Berlin’s initiative.
Citing German sources, the diplomatic correspondent of daily kathimerini notes that a specific proposal was submitted by Berlin with the aim of resuming exploratory contacts between Athens and Ankara, which have been frozen since 2016.
At the meeting, however, a double condition was set for the resumption of bilateral contacts: to stop the migration flows and Ankara should not proceed with exploration or drilling, the daily notes. The second condition was met with the secret reaction of the Turkish President, a fact that may explain the revelation of the meeting by Cavusoglu.
Greece’s opposition parties attacked the government for this meeting demanding a briefing on the issue and without hiding their strong annoyance about the ways the government is handling the whole issue.
They emphasize that it is inconceivable that the parties in the Greek parliament were informed about the meeting by the Turkish Foreign Minister.
“At such a critical juncture that Turkey is intensifying its aggression, the government must at least immediately inform the opposition about what was discussed at the tripartite meeting,” said SYRIZA in a statement.
PASOK/KINAL was harsher, stressing in a statement that “secret diplomacy has accumulated a lot of troubles” in the past and described as “unthinkable” to be informed through leaks by the Turkish side.
How comes that Greece is holding a secret diplomacy meeting with Turkey at times where Ankara’s provocations are on the rise and the Greek public opinion, incl. also members of ruling New Democracy, is hurt by Erdogan’s decision regarding Hagia Sophia?
Why was the meeting kept secret?
What was the real purpose and expediency of the Greek side by this meeting?
And finally: who selected Germany to be a broker for Greek-Turkish exploratory talks?
PS I bet that other ‘secret arrangements’ preceded that tripartite meeting in Berlin on Monday and that Kalin did not make a surprise appearance like a dancer out of the birthday cake, as the Greek side wants us to believe.