NEWS

Greek PM, Erdogan to meet amid tensions

ARISTOTELIA PELONI, ELENI VARVITSIOTI

TAGS: Turkey, Defense, Security

Against the backdrop of escalating tensions with Turkey, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to urge Ankara to dispense with its “provocative actions” during his informal meeting Wednesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London.

However, given the state of Greek-Turkish relations, expectations of Wednesday's meeting, which was requested by the Turkish side, remain low. Mitsotakis reportedly told his aides that he will raise the issue of Turkey’s provocations, saying the two leaders will talk openly. The meeting will be held in the wake of the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday disputing the existence of the continental shelf of Kastellorizo in the southern Aegean, and last week’s maritime boundaries deal between Turkey and Libya questioning Greece’s sovereignty.

Government sources emphasized Tuesday that Turkey’s attempt to ignore the presence of islands such as Crete, Rhodes, Karpathos and Kastellorizo “with tricks such as invalid bilateral memoranda does not produce internationally lawful results.” The accord, they added, cannot affect the sovereign rights of the Greek islands which are established in international law and in particular in the Law of the Sea.

Mitsotakis will also ask for support at the NATO summit, stressing that it cannot maintain a neutral stance when one member violates international law at the expense of another.

However, speaking Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is not part of the process to resolve issues between Greece and Turkey.

A US State Department spokesman described the Turkey-Libya accord as “unhelpful” and “provocative” as it raises tensions in the region, highlighting the risk of the Libyan conflict taking on wider regional dimensions. Mitsotakis will attend a working lunch with US President Donald Trump and other leaders Wednesday. For his part, US Ambassador in Athens Geoffrey Pyatt said the accord “detracts from the situation of stability that the United States has sought to encourage” in the region.

Meanwhile, in a meeting Tuesday with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the Libya accord is an affront not just to Greek interests but other countries as well, and that international law must be upheld.

Weighing in on the issue, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow hoped that the “parties to the aforementioned memoranda will show political prudence and will refrain from actions that could further exacerbate the already difficult situation in Libya and the Mediterranean as a whole.”

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