PM on Greek-Turkish relations at TIF press conference

PM on Greek-Turkish relations at TIF press conference

The Hague is still a long way off, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) press conference on Sunday when asked about Greek-Turkish relations ahead of his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday in New York.

During the press conference at the 87th TIF, Mitsotakis said that the restoration of communication channels with Turkey, through minister talks and the MOUs, and the promotion of a positive agenda at many levels, show progress.

“Greece has not changed its strategy towards Turkey. My intention was to talk with Turkey and for our issues to be resolved based on international law. When we disagree, things should not be taken to extremes,” he pointed out.

At the same time, he made it clear that issues of sovereignty are not going to enter the negotiation table, nor issues concerning the islands of the eastern Aegean. He himself is not willing to discuss them with Turkey. “Turkey has an interest in approaching the West, and the route to Europe goes through having good relations with Greece. This is a weapon we have in our hands for the normalization of Greek-Turkish relations. Let’s not expect for issues from the past to be resolved overnight, but let’s agree that when we disagree, things shouldn’t lead to extreme rhetoric,” he noted.

Regarding whether there is a prospect of concessions for the sake of negotiations, and on which issues, Mitsotakis said that everyone understands that in any negotiation no side can achieve 100% of its demands. However, he made it clear that the issues he is discussing with Turkey “are nothing more than the delimitation of the EEZ and the continental shelf. We are not to discuss issues of national sovereignty, the status of the islands of the eastern Aegean, and the rights that derive from the exercise of sovereignty over the islands.”

He also underlined that for 40 years we have been discussing this issue with Turkey, and he knows that policies do not change from one moment to the next, but – as he said – “even if we cannot agree, this does not oblige us to be permanently on edge, like the tensions we experienced in the last four years.”

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