Sunday, June 16, 2024

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis Meets Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan: Red Lines and Calm Waters in Their Discussion

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The interesting planned meeting in Turkey of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with the President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan – What were the red lines and what were the calm waters in the discussion between the two political leaders.

By Eleni Vasiliki Bampaliouta

In a scheduled meeting, at the invitation of Turkish President Erdogan, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis went to Ankara. The visit of the Turkish president to Athens was preceded a few months ago. After about two hours of talks, the leaders of Greece and Turkey gave a press conference, an interview in the context of which they underlined the value of the positive agenda in Greek-Turkish relations, without, however, managing to hide a series of disagreements at the same time.

As Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, “we have shown that next to our disagreements we can also write a parallel page with our agreements.”

Mr. Mitsotakis argued that “today should not remain captive to yesterday,” underlining at the same time that “we wish to intensify our bilateral contacts.” “I can only begin by thanking you for the warm hospitality today in Ankara, in a meeting worth noting is the fourth in the last ten months. Something which I believe proves that the two neighbors can now establish this approach of mutual understanding, no longer as an exception, but as a productive normality that is not negated by the known differences in our positions,” stressed the Greek Prime Minister. “I greet you cordially and respectfully. I feel great satisfaction hosting the honorable Mr. Mitsotakis and his delegation in Ankara,” said, for his part, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“As you know, when I visited Athens in December, we had confirmed our mutual agreement to keep the channels open. We recorded this consensus with the Declaration of Athens. The return visit is a reflection of this agreement. I thank him for his honesty regarding the development of bilateral relations,” added the Turkish president, addressing the Greek prime minister. Tayyip Erdogan said that the discussion with Kyriakos Mitsotakis was “productive, honest and constructive.” He noted that bilateral issues were discussed, as well as the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, of course, there were disagreements that were evident during the press conference.

Photos by the Press Office of the Greek Prime Minister). Συνάντηση του Πρωθυπουργού Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη με τον Πρόεδρο της Τουρκίας, Ρετζέπ Ταγίπ Ερντογάν στο Προεδρικό Μέγαρο στην Άγκυρα, Δευτέρα 13 Μαΐου 2024. (ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗΣ ΠΑΠΑΜΗΤΣΟΣ/ΓΡΑΦΕΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥ ΠΡΩΘΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΥ/EUROKINISSI)

They disagreed about Hamas

“There is an important issue on which we do not agree,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said to the Greek prime minister shortly before the end of a joint press conference in Ankara this afternoon. The Turkish leadership “does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization” but instead “a resistance organization […] that fights to protect the Palestinian territories and people,” the Turkish leader continued.

A little earlier, Kyriakos Mitsotakis had denounced the attack launched by Hamas terrorists on October 7, underlining Israel’s right to self-defense but distancing himself from the asymmetric use of force by the Israelis in the Gaza Strip.

Referring in particular to what is happening in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Mitsotakis called for a permanent truce and an end to the asymmetric violence on the part of the Israelis. At the same time, he described an Israeli attack on Rafah as a “colossal mistake”, while making it clear that the only sustainable perspective in the Palestinian issue is the two-state solution. “Western countries must speak with a louder voice” about what is happening in Gaza, said the Turkish president, who again accused Israel of “genocide.”

Photos by the Press Office of the Greek Prime Minister) Συνάντηση του Πρωθυπουργού Κυριάκου Μητσοτάκη με τον Πρόεδρο της Τουρκίας, Ρετζέπ Ταγίπ Ερντογάν στο Προεδρικό Μέγαρο στην Άγκυρα, Δευτέρα 13 Μαΐου 2024. (ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗΣ ΠΑΠΑΜΗΤΣΟΣ/ΓΡΑΦΕΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥ ΠΡΩΘΥΠΟΥΡΓΟΥ/EUROKINISSI)

Greek-Turkish and minority

Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Mr. Erdogan reiterated that in his opinion “there is no problem that is so big that it cannot be solved.” “Despite the differences of opinion, we are focusing on the positive agenda,” continued the Turkish president who, however, spoke again about the “Turkish minority in Greece,” thus provoking the reaction of the Greek prime minister. “The characterization of the minority as religious is expressly provided for by the Treaty of Lausanne,” the Greek Prime Minister said for his part, before speaking about Hellenism in Turkey which is unfortunately constantly shrinking.

Greek dissatisfaction with the Monastery of Chora

Mr. Mitsotakis did not fail, however, to express at the same time the “sorrow and dissatisfaction” of the Greek side for the Monastery of Chora, which will henceforth function as a mosque. “Turkey is a model country in the protection of cultural heritage. The Monastery of Hora is open for everyone to visit,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously stated, referring to the same issue.

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