In an atmosphere of understanding that the tones should fall between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meal was completed at the Vahdetin Palace in Istanbul.
“The meal lasted 2 hours, all the time the leaders were alone. The discussion took place in a very good atmosphere and each side repeated their firm positions. But it was a completely different tone on the part of the Turkish side”, government sources said after the meeting.
“After a long time, the two countries talked as allies about the great security challenges posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There was a realization that based on what is happening after the invasion of Ukraine, there is no reason to add problems and tensions”, the same sources underlined.
It was agreed that an effort should be made to drop the tones. Hence the emphasis on the issues of the positive agenda and economic cooperation.
In this context, the issue of energy was raised, without elaborating in more detail, according to the same sources.
The two sides now try to form communication channels on several levels. If all goes well, the Supreme Cooperation Council scheduled for the autumn in Thessaloniki, will be led by Mitsotakis-Erdogan. At the same time, Mr. Mitsotakis responded positively that next month, in April, there will be a visit to Ankara for the MOE from military high-ranking officers, as the invitation has been pending since November.
The assessment that exists in Athens is that the meeting can be the foundation of a better era in the near future. “The climate was good, the tone was clearly different from the Turkish side mainly. This was kept as a positive thing”, said the same sources.
There was a discussion on the issue of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine. Regarding the issue of illegal immigration, the message was that each side should do its part, but there was no shift from fixed national positions on bilateral issues.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to the meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his conversation with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
“It was a meeting that took place, I must tell you in a good atmosphere. I hope we have agreed that we face so many challenges as humanity, but also as two NATO allies at this time, which is more important to focus on what unites us and less on what divides us. Obviously we reiterated our firm national positions, but we emphasized the construction of a positive agenda, mainly in the field of economy, where I think we can make significant progress in the coming months”, said Mr. Mitsotakis.
“And if all goes well,” he continued, “I believe that we will be able to convene a Supreme Cooperation Council in Greece this time -it is our turn to organize it- hopefully in the fall. So I think it was an opportunity for a very open, very honest discussion and I think we laid the groundwork. I am careful in my expressions, because as you understand we have big differences, which are not bridged from one moment to the next. I believe that we have laid the foundations for the improvement of our relations and especially to work together on the major issues which we are currently facing enormous challenges. You saw again today tragic images from Ukraine with civilians losing their lives. That’s our concern”.
Earlier, about an hour after the meeting between Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential residence in Constantinople, the Turkish Presidency Communications Directorate issued a statement on the content of the talks.
According to the Turkish statement, the two leaders discussed current geopolitical developments with Russia’s war in Ukraine, expressing their concerns.
In addition, they focused on the mutual benefits of strengthening cooperation between the two countries.
Despite the disagreements between Turkey and Greece, they agreed to keep the channels of communication open and to improve bilateral relations.