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Greece Willing to Back "Positive" EU Agenda for Turkey

Ευρωκίνηση

PM Mitsotakis opens EU-Med7 meeting in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Michalis Karagiannis)

ATHENS — Greece's prime minister said Friday that his government is willing to back the European Union's "positive" agenda for relations with Turkey, signaling a further easing of tension between the neighboring countries. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is due to meet Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels.

"Of course, we are always open to a positive agenda but in a gradual, proportionate, and reversible way..., provided that the current de-escalation is maintained and that Turkey participates constructively in the dialogue and respects the conditions set by the EU," Mitsotakis said in Athens. 

Regarding the Cyprus issue, Mitsotakis again ruled out the possibility of any discussion of a two-state solution, "not only on the part of Cyprus or Greece as a guarantor country, but also by any member of the EU, as it violates the European acquis".

Finally, referring to migration, Mitsotakis said that "we do not want to see a repetition of the situation where migrants and refugees, desperate people, are used as geopolitical instruments, as levers for exercising geopolitical power".

A longstanding dispute between Turkey and Greece over boundaries and rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean flared last summer when Turkey sent energy research vessels into waters where Greece asserts jurisdiction.

A navy buildup in the area at the time raised fears of a military confrontation.

The EU broadly backed Greece in the dispute. But it stopped short of Athens' request to impose sweeping sanctions on Turkey and instead applied pressure on Ankara to re-start diplomatic talks with Greece. Turkey is not an EU member.

Diplomats from the two countries have held two rounds of talks in recent months for the first time in five years, while the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey also held reciprocal visits.