Mitsotakis to Meet Erdogan; Expected to Raise the Issue of Turkish Provocativeness

FILE - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, on a two-day official visit to Greece, meets Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, leader of the main opposition New Democracy party in Athens, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool via AP)

LONDON – Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to raise the issue of Turkish provocativeness at the NATO Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said that he will refer to Turkey’s provocations and ask the Alliance to adopt a position. “An alliance cannot be indifferent when one member is openly violating international law and thus turning against another member. An equal-distances approach is unfair to Greece, which has never sought to stoke tensions in our region.”

The prime minister has already indicated that Greece “knows how to defend its rights with confidence, calmness and efficiency.”

In this context, Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on December 4, 2019 (14:30 London time) on the sidelines of the NATO Summit, at the request of the Turkish side.

Speaking to his associates, the prime minister stressed: “I will put to President Erdogan all the issues of Turkish provocativeness. We will put our cards on the table. And it is in Turkey’s best interest to double back, away from provocative actions.”

Government sources noted that Greece’s position is clear as regards the essence of the issue: “Turkey’s attempt to abolish the maritime zones of the islands – such as Crete, Rhodes, Karpathos and Kastellorizo – through tricks such as invalid bilateral memorandums [between Turkey and the current Libyan government] does not generate internationally legal results. It cannot, in other words, harm the sovereign rights of our islands, which are established under international law and especially the law of the sea.”

They noted that the prime minister is already coordinating a series of actions that reply to Turkish provocations in practice. Mitsotakis raised the issue with his Italian counterpart in Rome on November 26 and in a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, where he asked for France’s support, they added.

In addition, the prime minister referred to the exploratory drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean and denounced Turkey’s actions during meetings with European leaders attending the UN Climate Summit in Madrid on Monday, asking for EU support and noting that Turkey’s actions undermine policies for exploiting natural gas deposits in the region, the sources said.

Referring to actions taken by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, meanwhile, they pointed to an agreement with Egypt to speed up talks on the demarcation of the maritime zones of the two countries, while the foreign ministry has demanded explanations from the Turkish ambassador in Athens and demanded that the Libyan ambassador present the contents of the Turkish-Libyan memorandum or face expulsion from Greece.

Finally, the Greek side has also informed the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and put the issue to Coreper, the sources noted.

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