German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. [Michael Sohn,/AP pool]
Berlin’s intense efforts to get talks between Athens and Ankara under way were underlined by Wednesday’s teleconference German Chancellor Angela Merkel had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a few hours after one with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
According to Anadolu, citing leaks from the Turkish presidency, Erdogan told Merkel he was determined to protect Ankara’s interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Anadolu further reported that Erdogan pointed out that the differences in the Eastern Mediterranean can be resolved through negotiations as long as there is a balanced approach and a “fair and consistent” attitude of the European states.
Turkish sources also said that Erdogan had asked Merkel for assurances that this time there would be no obstacles to the negotiations, which were reportedly given by the German chancellor.
Berlin appears to be intensifying its efforts so that exploratory contacts, the forum in which Athens and Ankara will seek to agree how they can restart the dialogue effort, begin as soon as possible.
It remains to be seen in the coming days whether the existing diplomatic triangle, between Mitsotakis’ adviser Eleni Sorani, her counterpart for the German presidency Jan Hecker, and Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s representative, can lead to a tripartite meeting between the three countries.
This may be preceded, however, by a telephone conversation (or teleconference) between Mitsotakis and Erdogan, an eventuality Sourani and Kalin are currently working for.
This was confirmed on Wednesday by Mitsotakis himself, in an interview in the context of the Economist conference in Athens, saying that his advisers and Erdogan’s are in contact and he reckoned that if they continue on the same course then the two men could speak on the phone.
Mitsotakis said he was ready to launch exploratory contacts “very, very soon,” saying there is “a window of opportunity” for bilateral contacts.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Mitsotakis talked with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades about the upcoming European Union Summit (September 24-25).
Despite the relative de-escalation between Athens and Ankara, Nicosia remains on edge after Turkey this week announced the renewal of drilling by its Yavuz drillship in the Cypriot continental shelf.
Also on Wednesday, Anastasiades received the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, whom he briefed about Turkey’s latest navigational advisory, or navtex.
For his part, Michel said that he conveyed to Nicosia that EU solidarity must be expressed in deeds, not words.