Mitsotakis, Erdogan Vow to Maintain Calm Climate in Relations

Mitsotakis Erdogan NATO Summit
Greece and Turkey vow to maintain thaw in their relations. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to maintain the calm climate in bilateral relations, during their meeting on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Washington on Wednesday.

The two leaders discussed issues of international and regional interest with an emphasis on recent developments in the Middle East and Ukraine. They also held a brief review of bilateral relations following the latest meeting they had in Ankara in May.

Mitsotakis expressed his satisfaction with collaborating with Turkish authorities to fight illegal migration.

Mitsotakis Erdogan NATO Summit
Mitsotakis also raised the Cyprus issue during the meeting with Erdogan. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

Both leaders agreed on the mutual benefit of maintaining a climate of calmness in bilateral relations. They also agreed to intensify collaboration toward doubling the value of bilateral trade exchanges.

“It is very natural for two neighbors to have differences of opinion. What matters is the will to resolve them. We want to turn the Aegean into a sea of peace and cooperation,” Erdogan said at a press briefing.

“We aspire to set an example for the whole world with the joint steps we take as Türkiye and Greece. Let me be frank here: There is no problem that cannot be solved between us as long as we act with good will, focus on the big picture, and do not stumble over molehills,” the Anadolu Agency reported, in quoting Erdogan.

They also talked about their next meeting, which will take place in New York in September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

The Greek prime minister referred to the Cyprus issue, noting that 50 years following the tragedy of 1974 it is not possible for Cyprus, and EU member state, to remain divided, and he reiterated the need for the restart of talks to resolve the Cyprus issue.

Mitsotakis, Erdogan agreed to “open a new page” in bilateral relations

On Tuesday Mitsotakis acknowledged that relations with Turkey have improved significantly since last year.

Speaking at a public debate with former US Ambassador, Daniel Speckhard, held at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think tank, the Greek Prime Minister said that after three years of turbulent bilateral relations, things have improved between the two NATO allies.

Mitsotakis noted that, while some fundamental Turkish positions regarding the Eastern Mediterranean remain unchanged amid the warming of relations, “We are cooperating better in addressing irregular migration. We reached an agreement that allows Turkish citizens to travel to (some) Aegean islands through a visa facilitation scheme. These are among the positive steps.”

The thaw between the neighbors was initiated during another meeting between Erdogan and Mitsotakis last July. The leaders agreed to “open a new page” in bilateral relations, leading to reciprocal visits and the signing of several cooperation agreements.

NATO Summit declaration

NATO Summit
NATo leaders pledged assistance for UKraine. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

In a 38-point joint statement, NATO leaders said they “stand in unity and solidarity in the face of a brutal war of aggression on the European continent and at a critical time for our security”.

They also pledged “long-term security assistance for Ukraine” amid Russia’s invasion. “We affirm our determination to support Ukraine in building a force capable of defeating Russian aggression today and deterring it in the future,” the leaders said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “shattered peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”, with Moscow posing the top threat to members’ security, the NATO countries say. Ukraine’s “future is in NATO” and the country is on an “irreversible path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, including NATO membership”.

NATO leaders also said that China has become a “decisive enabler of Russia’s war against Ukraine” through its “large-scale support for Russia’s defense industrial base”. They accused Iran and North Korea of “fueling Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine by providing direct military support to Russia”.

They also noted that more than two-thirds of members have fulfilled their commitment of providing at least 2 percent of their GDP to annual defense spending. The alliance has “undertaken the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense in a generation”, the leaders said.

Related: Mitsotakis, Erdogan Sign Friendship Declaration Between Greece and Turkey

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