Confirming what had been expected, Greece’s new Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet US President Donald Trump in New York city Sept. 24 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly annual opening.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the Greek leader will also meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the next day, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA) said in what could be a crucial showdown over whether tensions in the Aegean and East Mediterranean will be ratcheted down.
Petsas said of the meeting with Erdogan that, “It is always better to take advantage of a good opportunity to talk about issues, because if one does not, misunderstandings may arise,” with the countries at loggerheads over boundaries of the seas.
Turkey is also pressing ahead with drilling for energy in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in defiance of Greece, the United States and soft European Union sanctions, ramping up the worry of a possible conflict as Erdogan has defied all calls for him to back off.
Turkey and Greece, along with the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has military bases there, are guarantors of security for the island with Turkey continuing to occupy the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Turkey also has disputed Greece’s Continental Shelf in the Aegean and Erdogan recently produced a map showing his country owns Greek islands he openly said he coveted and that were ceded away in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne he refuses to recognize.
“What we want is to stop Turkey’s provocations, which are manifesting at all levels and in our bilateral relations too, but mainly towards the Republic of Cyprus. This is an issue that we should discuss with open cards,” Petsas said, underlinging that, “Our problems are not solved by unilateral provocative actions like Turkey’s.”
He added that, “The government is considering all possibilities. We also expressed concern in a joint press release following the meeting of the Cypriot President and Prime Minister (Mitsotakis) regarding Turkey’s attitude in the Cyprus issue, which currently has two dimensions: on the one hand the physical maritime provocations in Cyprus’ EEZ, and on the other hand the fact that it (Turkey) appears to be constantly interfering with discussions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, with the Famagusta issue and with the visits of Turkish officials to the region.”
Under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, which ironically had been anti-American, relations became the best ever between the countries officials on both sides said, with the US eager to step up a military presence and Greece wanting another buffer against possible Turkish aggression and provocations.