Greece treads warily on talks with Turkey

Greece treads warily on talks with Turkey

The 61st round of “exploratory talks” between Greece and Turkey has ended; the question now is when, and if, the 62nd will take place.

What is certain is that the five-party talks over Cyprus, under the aegis of the United Nations, will take place sometime in early March. They will include both Cyprus sides, the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and the breakaway “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” recognized only by Turkey, as well as the guarantor powers: Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

There, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will meet his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

At the conclusion of that meeting, we will know if the 62nd round will take place and, likely later, whether conditions are ripe for a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

At this point, and perhaps in an attempt to get on the good side of the new US administration, Turkey appears eager to talk and, to that end, has paused its previous aggressive moves, such as parading its research vessels in seas claimed by Greece as part of its maritime zone.

The Greek government finds itself in a bind: On the one hand, it would like the channels of communication with its neighbor to continue, or even broaden. But it is not willing to play the “useful idiot” in Turkey’s effort to create a more supple profile.

To this end, things are clearer in Washington than in Brussels. The Americans want Turkey to choose a side now and to rid itself of the Russian-made S-400 missile system. The European Union seems unwilling to sanction Turkey or comprehend that the Turks want to discuss issues that Greece considers to be infringing on its sovereignty.

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