As diplomatic initiatives focusing on Greek-Turkish talks are in progress, with the direct involvement of Berlin, Brussels and Washington, announcements are expected imminently regarding the resumption of exploratory contacts, which will begin after the European Union summit on September 24 and 25 at which the EU’s stance to Turkey will be discussed.
Government sources said that there was a tripartite teleconference on Friday between the diplomatic advisers of Greece, Turkey and Germany, Eleni Sorani, Ibrahim Kalin and Jan Hecker respectively. However, it is clear that once under way, the exploratory contacts will involve Greece and Turkey alone, as was the case until March 2016, when they were interrupted. The new round of contacts will be the 61st.
The head of the Greek team will be Ambassador Pavlos Apostolidis, who has in-depth knowledge of everything that took place in the exploratory contacts between 2002 and 2016.
It has not yet been clarified by the Turkish side whether it will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal or Director General for Bilateral Political & Maritime-Aviation-Border Affairs Cagatay Erciyes.
Erciyes has experience in these types of negotiations, before 2016 – under the current permanent representative of Turkey to the UN, Feridun Sinirlioglu.
Although Berlin has no place at the table of exploratory contacts, it has become quite clear that it will take an active role if required. Kalin, the spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, predicted on Thursday that it would take more than “weeks or months” to resolve the Greek-Turkish dispute, recalling that the relatively simple delimitation of maritime borders between the Soviet Union and Norway took 40 years to resolve. Although Kalin spoke of a time frame that stretched beyond the German presidency of the EU Council, he made it clear that Berlin could play a role in the Greek-Turkish talks in the new year.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to arrive in Athens next week (after September 27), in a visit linked to military cooperation between the two countries – which is why he will also visit Souda base on the island of Crete. However, his visit is also linked to Washington’s desire to defuse tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The top US diplomat will meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his counterpart Nikos Dendias, within the framework of the Greece-US Strategic Dialogue. Additional issues will be the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) and cooperation in the armaments sector.