ATHENS - Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis nixed any chance of meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the United Nations General Assembly opening in New York, putting it down to a schedule conflict.
Erdogan had said he expected to meet with Mitsotakis. “We will realize Mitsotakis’ demand in the US. We’ve got a meeting with him there,” Erdogan said, Kathimerini reported before Mitsotakis said it wouldn't happen.
“I think our schedules do not match,” was Mitsotakis' response but it wasn't said if Erdogan considered that a snub or brush-off after the two had recently talked on the phone about trying to keep another wave of Afghan refugees of using Turkey as a jumping-off point to get to Greece and seek asylum.
Greek State Minister Giorgos Gerapetridis told SKAI TV that, “The Prime Minister has not asked for a meeting and, as far as I know, the schedules of two leaders do not match,” he said.
That's a diplomatic response typically meant to cover other reasons why two heads of state won't meet, especially as they said they wanted to keep talking to ratchet down tension and will be near each other at the UN.
But Gerapetritis gave a hint of what was behind the decision after Mitsotakis had said that Turkey had to stop what the Greek leader said were “unlawful” actions by Turkey in planning to hunt for energy off Greek islands as it's doing off Cyprus with impunity now.
While Mitsotakis was a keynote speaker at the EUMED9 Summit meeting in Athens of the leaders of nine European Union countries, a Turkish vessel harassed a Maltese-flagged research ship of French interests off Crete.
Gerapetritis said it Erdogan's way of protesting the Athens meeting, saying the Turkish leader, who often gets his way in dealing with the EU by threatening to unleash more refugees and migrants, felt “pressured” by the gathering.
was a reaction to the recent EUMED 9 summit in Athens, adding that Erdogan “(Erdogan) should not feel that way because the EUMED was nothing more than a self-evident acknowledgment of respect, sovereignty and sovereign rights on the basis of international law,” he said.