Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis heads to New York on Wednesday to attend the 76th United Nations General Assembly amid renewed tensions with Ankara over the recent forays by Turkish vessels in Greek territorial waters. The issue was broached by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Tuesday in New York and his European counterparts, who convened an extraordinary meeting.
According to diplomatic sources, Dendias informed his counterparts about the unacceptable action of a Turkish warship, which harassed the Maltese-flagged Nautical Geo ship on Sunday as it was conducting scientific research within a delimited Greek continental shelf – in accordance with the Greek-Egyptian agreement on August 6, 2020 – at a distance of 10 nautical miles east of Crete.
The same sources said Turkey’s behavior was adjudged to “now have gone beyond any logic and certainly does not fit in at all with the image of ‘normality’ that it wants to project.”
In response to Ankara’s behavior, which also includes the frequent harassment over recent months by Turkish vessels of Greek fishing vessels, Athens lodged two demarches on Sunday and Monday, seeking, as it said, to “leave no challenge unanswered.”
Regarding the intense speculation of recent days over a possible meeting between Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York, government sources on Tuesday said there had been no communication between their respective staffs, so there was no grounds for it to occur.
Meanwhile, on a more optimistic note for Greek-Turkish relations, the Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu was welcomed on Tuesday by Mitsotakis in Athens, and held a joint press conference with Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis. The Turkish mayor’s visit came after he hosted Bakoyannis in Istanbul in March.
The two men stressed that the cities of Athens and Istanbul can build bridges of peace and work together to solve their problems, as well as those that go beyond the borders of the two countries.
Bakoyannis noted that “problems are solved from the bottom up.”
“People create them and people solve them. Even if they are created by governments or – to be precise – regimes, they can be solved by the people,” he said.
For his part, Imamoglu said, “Friendship between the two countries is not one of the solutions, it is the only solution.”