Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said talks in Ankara were “extensive, open and sincere,” speaking after meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.
The Greek minister welcomed the restart of exploratory talks and political consultations with Turkey, and he underlined that several regional and bilateral issues were discussed at the meeting with Cavusoglu, including a series of proposals towards reviving initiatives for the economic collaboration between the two countries.
The meeting also provided “a positive agenda of economic issues to promote our relations further,” and to “change the climate that exists in Greek-Turkish relations.” Mr Dendias did however underline that “a necessary prerequisite to this is de-escalation and refraining from actions and statements that undermine the climate”, reports the Athens Macedonian News Agency.
Greece, he underlined, “supports Turkey’s EU accession process, if it so wishes,” but respect of EU principles and values is an inviolable condition for it.
Concerning the five-sided summit on the Cyprus issue, under the aegis of the UN, he said all sides concerned will join with a “constructive spirit in mind.” The only acceptable solution to the Cyprus issue, he added, is “the one supported by all international actors: a bizonal, bicommunal federation.”
The minister pointed out that he found himself in agreement with his Turkish counterpart concerning migration being an “EU-Turkish issue”. Turkey, however, should meet its commitments as inscribed in its joint statement with the EU on migration, he noted. Furthermore, Dendias reminded his counterpart of what he said was the “instrumentalisation of the migration issue” at the Greek-Turkish borders in Evros in 2020.
Additionally, reversing its decision to turn the Hagia Sophia into a historic monument to a mosque “would be beneficial to Turkey and its international image.”
“Greece and Turkey are destined to coexist in a region with many complex problems,” Mr Dendias said. It is, therefore, to the benefit of both countries “that we cooperate within the framework of good neighborliness for security, prosperity and peace.”
“We are not ignoring reality; we know we have a long way ahead of us, but we can take that first step today,” he concluded.
Resolving issues by dialogue
Issues between Greece and Turkey “can be resolved by constructive dialogue,” Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, at statements following his meeting in Ankara with his Greek counterpart Dendias.
Welcoming the restart of exploratory talks and political consultations, he added that “fait accomplis and provocative statements can be avoided.” He said the two discussed all bilateral issues related to the Aegean and the East Mediterranean and acknowledged that Greece and Turkey held differences of opinion. He also highlighted the proposal earlier in the day by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a summit on the East Mediterranean.Advertisement
On the informal five-sided meeting on the Cyprus issue in Geneva, he said that “all sides must join in the most positive and constructive manner.”
Referring to Greek-Turkish trade and economic relations, he said that as neighbors both should continue and expand them, something being worked on. He also highlighted the importance of the restart last month of flights between the two countries that had been suspended due to the pandemic.
Cavusoglu called for “continuing the counterterrorism fight against organizations like FETO and PKK,” and said managing illegal migration must be done in a “spirit of cooperation, not antagonism.”
The Turkish FM also noted the two ministers discussed what he called “the Turkish minority living in Thrace”, adding that “from the very start, we introduced best practices for the Greek minority living here.” Both minorities he noted should continue living in either country in a way that leads them to prosperity and peace. FM Dendias responded that in Greece there is a Muslim minority, which is what the Lausanne Treaty recognises and what the Greek state believes.
Turkey is “prepared to offer any support to protect the cultural heritage of Ottoman monuments in Greece, the same is true for the Greek and Christian monuments in Turkey,” Cavusoglu said, while noting that “on this issue we can have mutual support and cooperation.”
Commenting on the meetings on Thursday, he said, “In the near term, we believe that visits between countries, talks without terms and conditions and visits to one another of our state leaders will provide a very productive foundation for the expansion and development of our contacts.”
In terms of improving Greek-Turkish relations and resolving disagreements, the Turkish minister said, addressing Dendias, “we believe we must continue the dialogue you began today with your visit,” while he added that both have known each other since 2003 at the Council of Europe and retained a friendship.
In ex agenda comments after the statements by Dendias, and in response to his counterpart’s expressed Greek stance, Cavusoglu said he could not accept that Turkey is violating Greece’s rights in the Aegean, while he also claimed that the Muslim minority in Thrace declares itself as being “of Turkish origin”. He also added that what the European Commission says about the issue of the Aegean and maritime zones is not related to International Law and to the International Court at The Hague.
Dendias’ meeting with Erdogan
Mr Dendias met earlier in the day with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by request of the Turkish side, according to diplomatic sources. There were no statements after their hour-long meeting.
Mr Dendias, who was accompanied by Deputy FM responsible for economic diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis and a delegation, wrapped up his one-day visit to Ankara with a dinner hosted by Cavusoglu in his honor before flying back to Athens on Thursday night.
Erdogan proposes summit
President Erdogan proposed that a summit be held about the East Mediterranean, Mr Cavusoglu said after the conclusion of his meeting with Dendias in Ankara on Thursday.Advertisement
The Turkish minister added that a difference in opinions concerning the Aegean does exist, but he underlined that “we believe all issues between us can be resolved by constructive dialogue.”
Concerning standing issues between the two countries, Cavusoglu pointed out that the dialogue which began on Thursday must continue.