What happened in Mitsotakis and Erdogan’s 90 minute meeting at NATO?

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Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, held a 90-minute meeting where the parallel countries addressed all their mutual tensions ranging from exclusive economic zones (EEZ), bilateral relations, confidence-building measures and the migrant crisis that has heavily affected both countries.

Earlier on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he discussed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “all the issues” that have recently increased tensions between the two countries during a meeting on the sidelines of NATO’s 70th birthday gathering in London, according to Ekathimerini.

“I presented all the issues arising from the latest Turkish actions. The disagreements from both sides were noted. The two sides, however, agreed to continue discussions on the confidence-building measures of the ministry of defence,” he told journalists after the meeting.

“I would like to assure the Greek people that difficulties in our relationship with Turkey have always existed, still exist, and will exist. But I believe that as long as both sides show goodwill, these difficulties can be overcome,” Mitsotakis said.

EEZ

According to sources quoted by the Athens-Macedonia News Agency (AMNA), the Greek premier clarified that the Turkey-Libya memorandum of understanding on maritime zones in the East Mediterranean is legally invalid and complicates things in a volatile region.

Ankara agreement

The EU, Russia, and the US all denounced Ankara’s agreement as a destabilising factor for the entire region, according to To Vima.

It should be noted that for decades Athens rejected a no-holds barred bilateral dialogue on Turkish claims, which was always a top objective for Ankara, and which Athens still believes Turkey could provoke with a military incident.

The Ankara agreement addresses the relations between Turkey and the European Union.

Migration crisis

The meeting at NATO was not as much a negotiation as it was confirmation of the positions of the two sides on certain issues.

Mitsotakis took the opportunity to underline that Turkey had violated the agreements of the EU-Turkey statement, which was an agreement made between the EU and Turkey in 2016 which aimed to limit the number of migrants entering Turkey.

After the meeting Mitsotakis said he had an “open discussion” with Erdogan and before the meeting he had said he would attend the talks “with open cards”.

Confidence-building measures

One agreement the two sides did come to was to continue talks on increasing confidence-building measures, which are actions and agreements from both sides to reduce the fear of military or physical attacks between two politically tense countries.

In a peculiar incident, the state-run Athens News Agency reported – citing defence ministry sources – that the government has decided to freeze the talks on CBMs in response to Turkish aggressiveness and its stance on the migration issue and that the withdrawal would be implemented by Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

Hours later the PM’s office denied there was such a decision – even though state-run media reported it – and that it was a leak from the defence ministry, according to To Vima.

It is unclear what had transpired in the interim or if there was any intervention.

“I placed on the table all the issues arising from Turkey’s latest actions. The differences on both sides were registered. However, the two sides agreed to continue talks on CBMs being carried out by the defence ministry,” Mitsotakis said.

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