Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet Monday in Brussels where they are attending a NATO Summit, with reports saying the two leaders at some point plan to have only their interpreters in the room.
Leaders of NATO countries are in Brussels this week to discuss a way forward for the military alliance, with a lot of talk expected to take center stage on challenging issues such as China and Russia, but also at the sidelines there are regional trouble spots including Greco-Turkish relations and the Cyprus Problem.
US President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to meet with Erdogan, said he would reiterate his country’s commitment to NATO's collective defense clause and communicate to allies that Washington believes Article 5 is a "sacred obligation."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki alluded to NATO members expected to announce a new "strategic concept" for the alliance’s approach going forward as the strategic environment changes, including threats from China and Russia.
Athens says Greece is ready to support a positive agenda in Euro-Turkish relations but wants to see de-escalation in actions and statements from Ankara
But there are many issues at the sidelines, with political pundits saying the meeting is expected to be tense after the two leaders had expressed diametrically opposing views on a host of issues, including the American president’s recent statement on WWI atrocities.
The US President made references to an “Armenian genocide” perpetrated by the Ottomans, a term vehemently rejected by Ankara, with Erdogan also warning this would be a huge obstacle that needed to be resolved if the two countries were to move forward.
The US president is also expected to press Erdogan over Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 weapons system.
Last year, when Biden was a presidential candidate and presumptive nominee for the Democrats, he landed in hot water over old comments he had made about Erdogan in a video dating back to December 2019.
Biden had called Erdogan an “autocrat” and said “he has to pay a price," adding that Washington should embolden Turkish opposition leaders "to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process."
Last week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told senators that he shared concerns about Ankara’s behavior and its actions in the eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus, which he described as “deeply disturbing, while also acknowledging differences with Turkey were “no secret.”
“In many aspects it is not acting as the NATO ally it should be, not the least of which with the acquisition of the S400s from Russia,” he said, confirming that differences between Washington and Ankara will be at the center of talks between the two leaders.
Erdogan is also scheduled to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with reports saying the two men at one point would remain alone with only their interpreters to have a chat.
Last week a statement from Athens said Greece was ready to support a positive agenda in Euro-Turkish relations but wants to see de-escalation in actions and statements from Ankara.
Nicosia: Turkey's goals against Cyprus, Greece, and region
On Saturday, Cypriot foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides accused Turkey of being the source of recent provocations.
Christodoulides, who spoke at an event in Ayia Napa marking 200 years since the Greek Revolt of 1821, said the objectives and the approach of the Turkish side were clear.
“Turkey’s goals are not only against Cyprus and Greece but also the whole eastern Mediterranean and the broader region of the Middle East,” the minister said.