DIPLOMACY

Difficult meeting expected in Ankara

difficult-meeting-expected-in-ankara

Harboring low expectations, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias heads to Ankara at noon on Thursday where he will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The visit will take place following a one-day postponement due to Wednesday’s NATO ministerial teleconference concerning the situations unfolding in Ukraine and Afghanistan.

The two foreign ministers are expected to discuss all bilateral issues, as well as regional developments. 

However, the meeting will take place against the backdrop of Ankara’s effort to undermine it, as it was only last weekend that the Turkish Presidency released a video claiming that Greece was providing support to terrorists.

In response, the Greek Foreign Ministry chose not to take take the bait and limited itself to dismissing what it said were delusional accusations. 

What is seen as the overarching impediment to the effort to normalize relations with Turkey was highlighted on Wednesday by Erdogan himself, who again threatened exploration and drilling activities in the areas of the Turkish-Libyan maritime border memorandum which infringe upon and challenge Greek sovereignty.

Under these circumstances, it is by no means certain that Dendias and Cavusoglu can do anything other than confirm the existing chasm.

However, one issue that is expected to be discussed more thoroughly will be the situation with refugees, given that Ankara and Brussels are in negotiations for a new agreement, which will replace the joint statement of 2016.

The possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Erdogan could also be the subject of possible discussion, although it is clear that this cannot be done in the immediate future.

Moreover the Cyprus issue will also form the backdrop of their meeting, as it will be the subject of the five-party meeting at the end of this month.

Tellingly, Cavusoglu plans to head to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus later on Thursday while Dendias will also fly to Nicosia, to attend the summit between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

However, Athens wants to signal to Ankara that there is room for a positive agenda as Dendias will be accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis.