As expected, Wednesday's meeting between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in London only confirmed the wide gulf between the perspectives of the two sides.
During the meeting, which took place amid a deterioration of bilateral ties, Mitsotakis raised the issue of Turkey’s provocations stemming from Ankara’s recent maritime border agreement with Libya and its dispute of Greece’s sovereignty, as well as migrant and refugee flows from the neighboring country.
Regarding the Libya accord, Mitsotakis told Erdogan that it is legally void and complicates relations in a sensitive region. Nonetheless, according to sources, the government believes that the accord will be canceled in practice, due to the opposition of the US and the political instability in Libya itself.
With regard to migration, he asked that Turkey uphold the EU-Brussels agreement to stem migrant flows into Europe.
At the same time, however, he sought to defuse tensions by showing that he wants channels of communication to remain open with Turkey, stressing that differences “existed, exist and will exist” while noting that these can be overcome as long as there is good will on the part of both sides.
“I presented all the issues arising from the latest Turkish actions. The disagreements from both sides were noted,” he said after the talks, which he described as “open.”
The two sides, however, agreed to continue discussions on the Defense Ministry’s confidence-building measures.
He also said he has instructed Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias to convene Greece’s cross-party foreign policy council to inform opposition leaders.
Earlier in the day, Mitsotakis slammed the Turkey-Libya accord during his address at NATO’s 70th anniversary gathering. He said that the promotion of international treaties which are in blatant violation of international law and the legitimate rights of NATO members are in clear breach of the spirit of cooperation and the fundamental principles that underpin the Atlantic Alliance.
The Greek premier also stressed Greece’s role as a credible NATO partner and as a key pillar for peace and stability in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.