Moratorium extension on the cards of Greek-Turkish talks

Mitsotakis, Erdogan to meet in New York, seeking to take next step in so-called political dialogue

Moratorium extension on the cards of Greek-Turkish talks

Preparations will begin within the week for what is considered a decisive meeting in New York between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place on September 18 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly but has been pushed back a few days due in the wake of last week’s devastating floods in central Greece.

The crucial summit meeting is expected to confirm the need to maintain the positive climate since last February in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes in the neighboring country. 

And, most importantly, it will clarify whether Athens and Ankara are in the position to take the next step in the so-called political dialogue with the ultimate, albeit not immediate, goal of referring the delimitation of the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Essentially, Mitsotakis and Erdogan will determine what exactly will be discussed by the deputy foreign ministers in October.

Given that the political dialogue now includes exploratory contacts, it remains to be seen whether the Turks will stick to the tactics of previous years, when they unilaterally broadened the agenda from territorial waters and airspace issues, to ones such as Thrace’s Muslim minority, “gray zones” in the Aegean and others.

According to reports, the agenda of Mitsotakis and Erdogan will include the extension of the June 15 – September 15 moratorium in the Aegean, outlined in the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum of 1987 until the end of the year. This will send a strong symbolic message that the current lull in the Aegean is becoming more permanent.

The meeting will also seek the formulation of a positive agenda, which will gradually unfold and constitute a sequence of “small victories,” which, as diplomatic sources contend, will bring the two sides closer together, but will also prepare public opinion for possible “broader” agreements.

To this end, particular importance is attached to the prospect of institutionalizing bilateral cooperation in the field of civil protection, as the devastating earthquakes of last February in Turkey country paved the way for the normalization of Greek-Turkish relations.

The discussion in Athens on October 17 in Athens between respective deputy foreign ministers Kostas Fragogiannis and Burak Akcapar will focus on issues such as the reopening of the Kipoi customs station and some trade agreements. 

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