Mitsotakis and Erdogan Meet for Bilateral Discussion in Turkish Capital

Kyriakos Mitsotakis-Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the press conference on Monday. Credit: Greek Prime Minister’s Office

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday had a constructive dialogue in Ankara with some insinuations from both sides.

This was the fourth meeting of the two leaders in 10 months, an indication that the dialogue between them continues in good faith but some issues remain stagnant.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke first, thanking Kyriakos Mitsotakis for developing bilateral relations with Turkey.

Erdogan statement

“I am pleased to host the honorable Prime Minister Mr. Mitsotakis and his delegation in Ankara. As you know we visited Athens in December, we had confirmed our mutual agreement to keep the channels of communication open. We recorded this consensus with the Athens declaration. The return visit of the honorable Kyriakos is a reflection of this agreement. I thank him for his sincerity on the issue of developing bilateral relations. We had a very productive, frank and constructive conversation, we discussed in detail the issues on our bilateral agenda. We are working to increase bilateral trade to 10 billion dollars. The agreement to establish a joint business council will greatly contribute to our efforts. The disaster management memorandum of understanding signed today solidified the basis of our agreements,” Erdogan said.

“We also discussed the interrelated problems in our relationship. We are committed to solving our problems on the basis of honest dialogue and international law. The fight against terrorist organizations was high on our agenda, we agree that there is no place for them in our region. It is important to find a solution for the Cyprus issue, as well,” the Turkish president continued.

Then the Turkish president made a clear reference to the Turkish minority in Thrace, saying that “he believes that it can strengthen the friendship between the two peoples”.

Regarding the Monastery of Chora and its transformation into a mosque, he argued that “we opened it to the public after a decision that was made years ago, in 2020, and the goal is to be included in the UNESCO list, as a world heritage monument”.

Mitsotakis statements

“Dear Mr. President of the Turkish Republic, Mr. Tayyip, I can only begin by thanking you for the warm hospitality, in the fourth meeting in the last ten months – which proves that we can establish the approach of mutual understanding not as an exception but as productive regularity, which also forms a better daily reality. This is the message we send today, which we founded a few months ago,” the Greek PM said.

“It is a positive development at a difficult time and it is very important that the approach has already led to tangible results of mutual benefit. Our goal is to double our bilateral trade in five years, we are moving in the right direction and our people are enjoying the fruits: Turkish families can travel to ten Greek islands. It is important that our two peoples communicate. Our cooperation in immigration is also paying off. Greece agrees to EU funding for Turkey to be relieved through organized relocations,” he continued.

“Both peoples, as I committed in September, are enjoying the fruits of our cooperation so that Turkish citizens can travel to 10 Greek islands and thanks to the agreements reached between the Greek government and the European Commission, the issuance of visas will now take no longer than just a few minutes, I had the opportunity to visit Lesvos and Chios in the last three days and see for myself how fast and how simple and short this process is and I think it is very important that our two peoples communicate in a direct way,” Mitsotakis said.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis - Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the press conference on Monday. Credit: Greek Prime Minister’s Office

“On the immigration issue, our cooperation pays off against the wretched traffickers. Cooperation must continue and intensify. Both our peoples have been very stressed by this issue and that is why our country has agreed to the financing of Turkey by the European Union for immigration,” Mitsotakis continued.

“The minorities of our two countries form a bridge of friendship. In Thrace, our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens live harmoniously and I am committed to this goal and the interest of the Greek state is in practice. The active presence of the minority in Greek life is our success and it would be a wish if Hellenism in Turkey experienced the same flourishing. In the spirit of coexistence and respect for heritage protection rules,” the Greek prime minister said.

“On the one hand, the Greek minority, even with a drastically reduced population, enriches the cultural life of Turkey, but it also needs the support of the Greek state to continue doing so. In Thrace, our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens live in harmony with the legal order guaranteeing them a regime of equal opportunities and I must assure you that I am committed to this goal. The practical interest of the Greek state in the well-being of the Muslim minority in Thrace is manifested by observing the principles of equality and Equality and also by taking special measures that are enjoyed by the Muslims of our country,” Mitsotakis continued.

In regards to terrorism and the war in Ukraine and Middle East, Mitsotakis said that it will stop only with the elimination of terrorism. “Israel has a right to defend itself” after a violent, bloody attack inside its borders that cost many Israeli lives.

After the speech of Mitsotakis, Erdogan expressed his disagreement with Hamas being branded as a terrorist organization by the West. He said that they are a resistance organization that started the struggle in 1947 to protect the rights of Palestinians against Israel‘s expansionism. Erdogan said that right now there are 1,000 Hamas members who are treated in Turkish hospitals and that he finds it disturbing that the West considers these people to be terrorists.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to disagree on the issue of Hams during the press conference on Monday. Credit: Greek Prime Minister’s Office

The joint statement of the two leaders

The President of the Republic of Turkey, H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, met on May 13th, in Ankara, in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.

The two leaders reviewed the results of the 5th High-Level Cooperation Council, which was held in Athens on December 7th, 2023, and took stock of the progress in the meetings which had since taken place, based on the pillars of the Political Dialogue, the Positive Agenda and the Confidence Building Measures, under the guidance of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

The two leaders welcomed the progress achieved to date within the scope of the Positive Agenda Joint Action Plan involving measures of common interest in various fields. They underscored the importance of the Joint Action Plan in building economic cooperation as a mainstay of the bilateral relationship.

In this context, the two sides also welcomed the establishment of the Turkish-Greek Business Council, which will promote business cooperation based on specific and well-targeted sectors, and reaffirmed their commitment to double the trade volume between the two countries.

Acknowledging the common challenges of climate change and the seismic vulnerability of the region and recalling the tragic earthquakes of February 2023 in Turkey, the two sides noted with satisfaction the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Disaster and Emergency Management.

The two sides further welcomed the signing of an agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Health and Medical Sciences.

The leaders also reviewed regional and international issues and confirmed their shared view that the current climate in the bilateral relations makes an important contribution to the strengthening of stability in the region.

The two leaders tasked their Foreign Ministers to coordinate work towards the next meetings in the context of the agreed roadmap. Both sides pledged their commitment to consolidate the current positive climate in line with the 2023 Athens Declaration on Friendly Relations and Good-Neighborliness, explore further areas of cooperation, continue with regular exchanges, and maintain effective communication channels at multiple levels, for the benefit of both nations in an atmosphere of friendship and mutual trust.

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