Monday, 14 June 2021 -
As the NATO Summit gets underway Monday 14th, Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is expected to have a much-anticipated sit-down with his Turkish counterpart, Tayyip Erdogan.
As revealed by a source close to the Greek government, the meeting will take place on the sidelines of the NATO summit, and it is expected to have at least an aide from each side. And according to information obtained from officials involved in the preparation of the face-to-face meeting, both sides have expressed a willingness to promote a positive agenda, and expectations are high as to the outcome of their sit-down.
But What’s the Sticking Point in The Greece-Turkey Tensions?
Greece and Turkey are all NATO members bound by the EU's territorial law and the UN Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) but they have also considered themselves traditionally long-standing rivals. The past few months have, however, seen tensions rise, with both countries mobilizing warplanes and navies in the Mediterranean Sea to antagonize one another.
But why are the warheads and the heightened opposition against each other? Greece and Turkey have been marred in tension that is rooted in the exploration of offshore natural gas in a territorial island off the coast of Cyprus. And this isn’t the first time as this island has been a long-standing source of conflict between the two countries.
Nonetheless, officials have stated that both sides are willing to keep the tensions at a minimum, and the face-to-face setting is the right move to elicit a franker exchange of ideas with the aim of de-escalation. And while there aren’t any guarantees yet, a more positive outcome is expected especially as the meeting is scheduled after Erdogan meets President Biden.
The Word from Both Camps Is:
Greece’s PM Open to A Positive Agenda with Turkey
On Friday, June 11th, in an EU Mediterranean countries’ (EU-Med7) meeting held in Athens, Greece’s Prime Minister reiterated his stance to push for positive talks when he meets his Turkish counterpart today Monday. However, he said his willingness was subject to the de-escalation being conducted in a gradual, reversible, proportionate manner, and in a way that respects the EU’s territorial law act, as well as that stipulated in the UN’s Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Furthermore, he stressed that he was willing to undertake any talks on the condition that Turkey will be ready to engage in constructive dialogue and agree to measures that respect the laid down international law. And with regards to the disputed Cyprus island, he ruled out the likelihood of that discussion in today's meeting.
The Word from Turkey's Foreign Minister
Late last month, Greece PM had a meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister, in what officials described as cordial. Sources close to both camps said each side expressed a willingness to promote efforts towards de-escalation. And ahead of their meeting in Brussels, it is expected both sides will initiate a process aimed at normalizing the situation in the short-term, and hopefully engage EU and the UN's multi-panel member to resolve the disputed island issue for the long term.
(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker team)