Mitsotakis: Difficulties in Greek-Turkish Relations Can Be Overcome by Goodwill


FILE- Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in London. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitris Papamitsos)

LONDON - Relations with Turkey may present difficulties, but Greece and Turkey can overcome their differences as long as they show goodwill, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday.

Following the meeting on the sidelines of the NATO Leaders Summit in Watford, 15 NW of London, Mitsotakis said that he had held an open discussion with Erdogan. "I raised all the issues emerging from the latest Turkish acts, and disagreements on either side were recorded," he said of the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half.

"Nevertheless, both sides agreed to continue talks on the (Greek) National Defense ministry's Confidence-Building Measures," the premier underlined. He added that he had asked Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias, who was present, to convene the National Council on Foreign Policy and brief all parliamentary parties about 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.

According to sources, 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.

The two leaders also discussed the refugee issue, and in particular the EU-Turkey Joint Statement about migrant returns. Mitsotakis, sources said, noted that Turkey's changed stance recently meant the Turkish coast guard did not respond to Greek requests for pickups of migrants setting off from the Turkish coast. He reiterated, however, Greece's commitment to the Joint Statement.

On the Greek side, the meeting was also attended by the national defense minister, the PM's head of diplomatic office, his national security advisor, and the PM's press office director.