Mitsotakis after meeting with Erdogan: "We disagree on the Cyprus issue"
Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent the message that the next step in Greece-Turkey relations may be the approach to delimiting the continental shelf and EEZ in his statements after the meeting he had with Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Maximos Palace.
The Greek prime minister also announced the signing of the declaration of friendship and good neighborliness between the two countries 100 years after the Treaty of Lausanne, recalling the Venizelos-Inonou pact in 1930. Mr. Mitsotakis also expressed the disagreement between Athens and Ankara in Cyprus while he meaningfully said that "I am sure that there are voices that do not agree with this approach, but we have a responsibility to bring the two countries side by side as are our borders".
For his part, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his statements used the term "brothers" for Greeks and Turks adding that "there is no problem so big between us that it cannot be solved".
The Turkish president also chose to refer to the closure of the Lavrio camp and the "Turkish" minority in Thrace in order to elicit the Greek prime minister's response that "the definition of the minority is determined by the Treaty of Lausanne" with Mr. Erdogan not to follow up on this position.
At the beginning, Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke of a special day as after seven years the Supreme Cooperation Council meets. "I think that in itself signals the intention of the two countries to seek new creative avenues in their relations."
Looking back on the previous period, the Greek prime minister referred to crises such as the three-year pandemic, a war in the heart of Europe that caused an energy and inflationary crisis as well as major natural disasters. "At the same time, we faced and are facing regional conflicts that raise concern when they develop in the wider region," said Mr. Mitsotakis.
There have been moments that have dangerously threatened bilateral relations
"But bilateral relations have experienced fluctuations as well. At times they threatened them dangerously. And with them security and peace in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. That is why it is extremely important that in the last few months the countries are walking on a calmer path. "Greece and Turkey must live in peace, formulate their known disagreements, discuss solutions and if these are not bridged, not automatically generate tensions and crises," said Mr. Mitsotakis.
"And in this direction in Vilnius we agreed to pick up the thread of our contacts with the aim of looking for ways of cooperation. The road map we adopted included 3 levels political dialogue, positive agenda and confidence building measures. And we ourselves, dear president, are meeting for the third time in 6 months" reminded the Greek Prime Minister.
Especially for today's Supreme Cooperation Council he said that "we are making a new assessment of the efforts that led to new or improved agreements. Bilateral trade has exceeded 5 billion euros and it is a realistic goal to reach 5 euros in 10 years."
Immigration and the facilitation of Turks visiting Greek islands
In terms of immigration, we have seen a significant reduction in flows recently as a result of border guarding and the much better cooperation between the port police and coast guard of the two countries, and this cooperation can and should be improved even more
With regard to the constant support for Turkey's European accession perspective, our country supports the facilitation of granting visas within the framework of the European acquis. In addition, Greece requested and secured EU approval to activate the possibility for Turkish citizens and their families to visit all year round for seven days 10 of our islands that either have refugee structures or have a direct ferry connection with Turkey.
Minorities as a bridge of friendship – We disagree on the Cyprus issue
The prime minister characterized the minorities of the two countries as a bridge of cooperation and friendship "because equality and prosperity that each state ensures for its minorities helps mutual understanding and mutual respect".
We must converge in the observance of international legality, in absolute respect for the territorial integrity of states and in the protection of human values and especially civilians, the Greek Prime Minister added in the report of the discussions he had with the Turkish president on issues such as the Middle East, Ukraine and the Caucasus.
We disagree on the Cyprus issue, for us there is no solution beyond those of the United Nations Security Council and the dialogue must start from where it was interrupted in 2017. Only through it can there be a solution.
The declaration of friendship and good neighborliness
Then the Greek Prime Minister recalled that in October 1930 a pact of friendship was signed by Ismet Inonou and Eleftherios Venizelos to announce 100 years after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne the conclusion of a declaration on relations of friendship and good neighborliness "a declaration envisioned by Konstantinos Mitsotakis when In 1997 he received the Abdi Ipeksi Grand Peace and Friendship Award. Declaration that we signed with absolute respect for the rights that derive from the sovereignty of each country. It defines the principles and milestones of dialogue and the limits of cooperation.
The next step may be the approach for continental shelf and EEZ delimitation
Based on these assumptions we will proceed to the next steps, we will intensify the MOUs and the next phase of the political dialogue may be the approach to delimit the continental shelf and EEZ in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean which according to Greece is the only difference that could be subject to international arbitration. Always with international law and the law of the Sea as a compass
He announced a visit to Ankara in the spring of 2024
"I intend to visit Ankara in the spring before meeting you in July at the NATO summit. I know and I am sure that there are voices that do not agree with this approach, but I feel a historical debt to bring the two states side by side as are our borders. So far we have succeeded in bringing relations back to calm waters. We owe it to these calm waters to ensure that a fair wind will blow" concluded the Greek Prime Minister.
I feel great satisfaction to be in Athens again. I would like to thank the Prime Minister for the welcome
We want to promote the positive relationship that exists. I believe we can hold this meeting once a year
We agreed to increase bilateral trade to 10 billion
Our wish is to solve common problems
We discussed how to deal with international terrorism and we welcomed the closure of the Lavrio camp and I asked for attention to ensure that there are no similar camps that support terrorists
The Turkish minority in Greece and the Roma community in Turkey are building blocks of our cultural wealth
I expressed the expectations for the improvement of the situation of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace
We have said from the beginning that we do not condone the targeting of civilians in Gaza
We are neighboring countries sharing the same sea, it is quite natural for there to be problems between two countries let alone two brothers
We want to make the Aegean a sea of peace. There is no problem so big that it cannot be solved
We are satisfied that Mitsotakis has such a perception
Mitsotakis' answer for the minority
After Erdogan's speech, Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the floor again, who referred to the issue of minorities, saying that "for me personally, Thrace is an example of the coexistence of Christians and Muslims. The definition of minority is determined by the Treaty of Lausanne. It is our duty to maintain and ensure the climate of harmonious coexistence. Greece assures that it will continue to work day and night in this direction.
Next is the Supreme Council of Cooperation
The bilateral contacts of the Greek and Turkish ministers who have arrived in Maximos for the realization of the Supreme Cooperation Council in the form of a meal were completed earlier.
In addition to Giorgos Gerapetritis who met Hakan Fidan, Nikos Dendias spoke for the first time on Greek soil with Yassar Guler. Deputy Foreign Ministers Kostas Fragogiannis and Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou met with Burak Aktsapar, Dimitris Kairides, Yiannis Oikonomou and Christos Stylianidis with Ali Gerlikaya, Kyriakos Pierrakakis with Yussuf Tekin, Kostis Hatzidakis with Mehmet Simsek, while the Olga Kefalogianni and Lina Mendoni met Mehmet Nuri Ersoy together.
Officials from both sides who do not have mandatory bilateral appointments, such as Minister of State Stavros Papastavrou and the Director of Communication of the Turkish Presidency Fahrettin Altun, will also participate in the lunch.
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arrived at Maximos shortly after 12 noon for his meeting with Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The Greek prime minister welcomed the Turkish president on the steps of Maximos having a short dialogue before they reached the entrance of the building for the formal photos.