In a ninety-minute meeting Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, flanked by their defence and foreign ministers, discussed the full gamut of bilateral relations, ranging from Turkish aggressiveness in the Aegean and the Mediterranean to the recent signing of a Libya-Turkey MOU on delimiting their exclusive economic zones – leaving out large segments of Greece’s EEZ with the specious argument that islands, including Crete and Katelorizo, have no EEZ.

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

Mitsotakis told Erdogan that the Turkey-Libya MOU is legally null and void.

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

Migration crisis

Today’s meeting, however, reportedly was not a negotiation but rather a repetition of the two sides’ steadfast positions as usual, at least according to official statements.

However the migration crisis with Turkey allowing thousand to leave its shores and head to the Aegean islands was a crucial part of the talks, with Mitsotakis underlining Turkey’s violations of the EU-Turkey statement that set clear limits.

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”.

CBM talks to continue

What the two leaders did agree on was to continue talks between the two sides’ technical teams on hammering out confidence-building measures.

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.

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

In remarks to journalists after the talks Mitsotakis said he had an “open discussion” with Erdogan.

“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.

“I have instructed the foreign minister to convene the Supreme Council on Foreign Relations so that all political parties can be briefed. I want to assure the Greek people that difficult relations with Turkey were, are, and will be exist. However, I believe that if both sides exhibit good will those difficulties can be transcended,” the PM underlined.

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