The meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 14, on the sidelines of the NATO Summit, will be intimate, with, at most, a top aide from each side present, Kathimerini understands.
According to officials involved in the preparation of the meeting, the intimate setting would help a frank exchange of views. Both times Erdogan and Mitsotakis met, in September and December 2019, they had presided over a meeting with several officials from each country, resulting in a series of parallel monologues and no substantial exchange.
Even with this setup, the Greek side has few illusions about the likely results. The goal certainly remains to keep tension to a minimum, something that ideally would carry over to bilateral relations over the following few months.
The Greek side believes that Erdogan accepted the one-on-one meeting as part of his recent charm offensive towards the West and not out of a desire to engage in substantial talks with Athens. In any case, his idea of substantial talks involves an agenda which Athens is unlikely to adopt, especially items such as the Muslim minority in the province of Thrace, which Greece regards as religious and multiethnic and Turkey as ethnic and Turkish.
While the Greek government welcomes the meeting, without expecting too much out of it, its annoyance at some of its EU partners, whom it sees as insensitive to Turkey’s stance on issues important to Greece, is palpable. This message of annoyance has reached Germany, but also Spain. The former was the recipient of stern messages concerning Greece’s exclusion from the conference on Libya, on June 23, where a number of countries that have nothing to do with the Mediterranean will attend.
The EU Summit follows on June 24 and 25. It is a given that the atmosphere of the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Erdogan at the NATO Summit will affect the debate on Turkey, even though the Europeans appear unwilling to make significant decisions affecting their relations with Turkey, apart for a renewed agreement on migration.
Mitsotakis will also have the chance to explain Greece’s positions on Turkey on Friday, at a preparatory meeting for the September summit of the EU’s “Med 7” (Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain).