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22 June, 2024
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Restart seen in talks between Greece, Turkey

Talk of resumption of bilateral contacts after meeting at next week’s NATO summit in Vilnius

Kathimerini Greece Newsroom

By Manolis Kostidis

Prompted by the recent period of calm in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, both freshly re-elected, are aiming to announce the resumption of bilateral contacts after meeting at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12.

The meeting, which was scheduled after Erdogan congratulated Mitsotakis on his election victory on June 25, is expected to be relatively brief and in a closed setting, with the two leaders accompanied by their foreign ministers and close advisors.

The immediate goal is not to resolve all differences, as it is recognized that the numerous issues on the agenda and recent tensions make it a challenging task. Nevertheless, officials in Ankara believe that steps can be taken to improve the atmosphere before initiating any dialogue.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is expected to engage with his Greek counterpart Giorgos Gerapetritis. One of the more feasible steps under consideration is the resumption of exploratory talks, which may also involve deputy foreign ministers, along with discussions on confidence-building measures (CBMs).

Analysts in Turkey suggest that Erdogan, as he has done with other countries, is willing to set aside past grievances and his previous tough stance on Greek-Turkish relations, as well as his controversial remarks about Mitsotakis. Ankara’s aim is reportedly to normalize relations with Athens, despite the existence of problems and differences, given Greece’s importance in Turkey’s renewed engagement with the West.

Essentially, Erdogan seeks to reset Turkey’s foreign and defense policy with the United States and the European Union. This was one of the reasons for excluding Mevlut Cavusoglu and Hulusi Akar from the new government. Steps have already been taken to reestablish relations with Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with Fidan, the former head of Turkey’s national intelligence service (MIT), playing a significant role, along with Ibrahim Kalin, a long-term confidant of Erdogan, who has replaced Fidan at MIT.

Cyprus  |  Greece  |  Turkey  |  NATO

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