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Editorial

Cruise Change from Ankara to Athens

It is not clear exactly why the relations between the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey changed from ‘cold’ to ‘warm.’

This should probably be attributed to the desire of both sides to move past impressions about their clash at the joint press conference of the two ministers in Ankara on April 15th.

In contrast to the most recent exchange this week between the two ministers, the attitude of the Greek Prime Minister towards the Turkish Foreign Minister was exactly the appropriate one: measured.

That is, it reflected the actual conditions of the relations between the two countries.

The main decision taken, as can be seen from the public statements from the visit of the Turkish official in Athens, was that a meeting between the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of Turkey should take place in the context of the upcoming NATO Summit on June 14th.

(By the way, that is where Erdogan will meet President Biden for the first time.)

It was only a matter of time before there was an agreement about a meeting such as this – not only because of the relations between the two countries (which, as we know, came very close to a shooting conflict), but also because of the great pressure that has been exerted by the U.S. and other countries.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said in an interview with the Hurriyet Daily News in Ankara on May 28 without even being asked:

“I’m delighted that officials from the Turkish government are having meetings with Greece. We think dialogue was always a good thing, and we are not the ones who are going to make these decisions. These difficult decisions are going to be made by Turkey and by Greece.”

She did not specify what "difficult decisions" must be made by the two countries.

And while decisions are, at the end of the day, indeed the responsibility of both governments, the Biden government cannot ‘wash its hands’ of the matter.

America also has a role to play, as we all know, and as Biden himself has declared on more than one occasion.

But dialogue for the sake of dialogue can, instead of helping to normalize relations, further intensify the crisis with unpredictable consequences.

That's why the meeting requires very good preparation.

It is absolutely necessary for the U.S. government to stress in advance to the Turkish President that it must put an end to its claims over the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus. That they are unacceptable and that if this is not done, there will be no normalization of relations between the two countries. That is why it would be good for the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting to follow the Biden-Erdogan meeting.

And it must also be stressed that it is good to avoid situations like the unacceptable crude and provocative ‘private’ visit of Cavusoglu to Thrace.

While it is a fact that Greece cannot prevent him from visiting the Muslim minority there, it is clear that the Turkish Foreign Minister went out of his way to be provocative.

Despite all of this, Dendias and Cavusoglu warmly embraced each other- regardless of the fact that Cavusoglu’s references of the ‘Turkish minority’ in Thrace at the press conference in Ankara launched a lively conflict with him…

 

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