Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis’ meeting with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan was concluded in Ankara on Tuesday.
The main objective the private meeting that lasted two ours was the preparation of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the context of the UN Assembly in New York as well as Greece-Turkiye’s High Cooperation Council that wil be held in Thessaloniki in December 2023,
The two foreign ministers met for talks aimed at improving ties between the NATO allies that are at loggerheads over a string of decades-old disputes.
Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan decided at their meeting in Ankara on Tuesday the restart of the political dialogue, the positive agenda and the Confidence Building Measures.
FM Gerapetritis said that it is important to build on that that unite us and understand better those that divide us.
He added that they agreed that the road map will have the following three levels:
- First the political dialogue level which will start with the responsibility, on the Greek side, of Deputy Minister Alexandra Papadopoulou on 16 October.
- Second, the implementation and strengthening of the Confidence Building Measures in the near future
- Third, the level of the talks on the promotion of the positive cooperation agenda in sectors as investments, agriculture, tourism, trade, shipping, climate crisis which will restart under the responsible deputy minister Kostas Fragogiannis.
The mission of the two ministers is: To resolve the cutting edge issues that will emerge between the two countries and to release the tension aiming at preventing possible dangerous situations. To direct the talks between the two parts at all levels, namely the political dialogue, the positive agenda and the Confidence Building Measures in order to have constant monitoring, single approach and high accountability for the production of beneficial and tangible results. Third, to prepare the meetings between the two country leaders inorder to have a constant strong political mandate and legalisation at the highest level.
The milestones, as Gerapetritis said, will be first of all the meeting between Mitsotakis and Erdogan on September 18 and the organization, after 7 years, of the High Cooperation Council in Thessaloniki until the end of the year.
On his side, Fidan underlined that “we have opened a positive period”, noting that it was initiated from Mitsotakis and Erdogan’s meeting in Vilnius. He also said that they share the same views on the resolution of the differences through the dialogue.
Discussions between the two ministers took place in a more friendly climate triggered by Greece sending assistance to Turkey following a devastating earthquake earlier this year, and Turkey offering condolences after a deadly train accident in Greece.
The meeting comes as Ankara, in the throes of an economic downturn, is seeking a reset of its often-troubled relations with Western nations.
It follows a rare meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
The two neighbors disagree over territorial claims in the Aegean Sea, energy exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean and ethnically split Cyprus, among other issues.
Tensions flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea — where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones — leading to a naval standoff.
In recent years, Turkey has accused Greece of deploying troops on Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast in violation of treaties. Greece says it needs to defend the islands against a potential attack from Turkey, noting Turkey has a sizeable military force on the western Turkish coast. Turkish officials said continued militarization of the islands could lead to Turkey questioning their ownership while Erdogan went as far as to threaten sending a missile to Athens.
Last year, Erdogan had pledged never to talk to with Mitsotakis, furious at the Greek leader who during a visit to the United States called on Washington not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
sources: amna, AP