ATHENS — After breaking the ice – gingerly – in a four-hour chat in Constantinople in a 61st round of so-called “exploratory talks,” whether Greek and Turkish officials pick them up again in March in Athens likely depends on what happens first with an upcoming discussion in Cyprus over reunification.
That will be five-party talks also involving the United Nations and the three guarantors of security on the divided island, Greece, the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom and Turkey, which has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion.
Kathimerini indicated if those talks, which are also seen as exploratory and coming 4 ½ years after the last round in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana collapsed, bring renewed acrimony then the Greece-Turkey talks could cease.
It was also four years between Greek and Turkish officials talking about their differences but this time was focused solely on Turkish plans to drill for oil and gas off Greek islands.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will meet his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu on Cyprus in discussions that could be a litmus test of whether the Greek-Turkish talks should pick up again in Athens.
Those would come as the European Union is due to meet to again discuss Greece’s demand for sanctions against Turkey if the two countries can’t resolve their dispute over boundaries in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
In Greece’s favor is the new US administration of President Joe Biden, who has close ties to Greece and has already shown disfavor over Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile systems that undermine NATO – to which Greece, Turkey and the US belong – and could be used against Greece.
What happens at the Cyprus talks, the paper said, will also likely show whether the 62nd round of Greece-Turkey talks will pick up again and if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet after a long period of not talking through official channels.