“The only issue to discuss with Turkey in exploratory talks is the delimitation of the maritime zone in the Aegean and the East Mediterranean Sea, ” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Monday. Mitsotakis in fact responded to Turkey that earlier on the day invited Greece to “exploratory talks” and thus “unconditionally.”
From Lisbon where he pays an official visit, Mitsotakis said that Greece will start exploratory talks with Turkey, once a date is set, on the basis of European Council guidelines. The talks will start “where they were stopped in March 2016, and to achieve progress on the issue of delimiting the maritime zones in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean,” the Prime Minister underlined.
However, Greece has not yet received any invitation to work towards a date for the talks, Mitsotakis said, reiterating that “the one and only issue that we are facing is the delimitation of maritime zones in the Aegean.”
He noted “I count as a positive point that Turkey is expressing a will to have the process begin.”
An established date “will be a positive first step. The European Council has stressed that this policy requires consistence and continuity,” Mitsotakis said during a joint press conference with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. He also referred to the progress report expected in March by Josep Borrell, the EU’s head of foreign relations.
Portugal that is leading the rotating EU presidency January 1- June 30
Costa said that both his country and the EU have clearly stated their fulls solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and have demanded respect for their territorial integrity, as they are members of the EU.
“Doubts cast on any EU member state’s territorial integrity means the territorial integrity of the entire EU is cast in doubt,” he pointed out.
“We are all NATO allies,” he said, “and Turkey is one of the most important neighbors of the EU. We have very powerful economic and social ties, and there is a large Turkish community in the EU.” He said his country’s presidency would work towards a normalization of relations, and have “a new agenda, a new relationship with Turkey,” at the European Council meeting in March, “without naturally forgetting Greece’s and Cyprus’ rights.”
Portugal’s priorities as president of the Council of the European Union focus on an economic recovery related to climate actions and digital transition, PM Coasta said during a joint presser.
With Greece, specifically, Portugal hopes during its presidency to bolster economic relations, Costa said, referring to a memorandum of collaboration signed between the two countries recently.
“We also discussed our presidency priorities at the EU, of accelerating EU economic recovery, strengthening the social sector, and securing European independence on a global scale,” Costa underlined.
Mitsotakis extended an invitation to PM Costa to attend events for the 200th anniversary of the breakout of the Greek Revolution for Independence in 1821.
He also made special mention of Colonel Antonio Figueira d’ Almeida, “the first Portuguese Greek,” as he called him, who helped the Greek revolutionaries by fighting beside them. His namesake and grandson, a century later, would die fighting for the independence of Macedonia, he said.