by Aggelos Skordas
Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday participated in the inauguration ceremony of the renovated Consulate General of the Hellenic Republic in Izmir. Both parts highlighted the significance of the need for mutual understanding between the two neighbouring countries as well as the need for dialogue.
Kotzias characterized the inauguration of the Kapetanaki building where the Consulate is housed as a happy event for Greek diplomacy and for him personally, especially since it was attended by Cavusoglu. “In spite of the problems that exist between the two states, we have found, with Mr Çavuşoğlu, a path of cooperation, friendship and joint action, wherever we can”, he noted, adding that “the restoration of this imposing building is the restoration of the past, the present and a creative future”.
On his behalf, the Turkish Foreign Minister said his country sees dialogue and cooperation as building blocks in its relations with Greece, the Consulate of which has been hosted since 1877.
However, the good climate between the two officials was reversed when Cavusoglu seized the opportunity to criticize Athens over its stance on the issue of the eight Turkish servicemen who sought asylum in Greece after the failed coup of July 2016. As he said, his country “would never give permission to people that are considered by you [Greece] to be traitors to remain in Turkey, nor provide hospitality to aspiring terrorists and coup-plotters”.
Kotzias immediately picked up the gauntlet and replied to his counterpart in a similar tone: “Greece does not harbour terrorists. What we have always had in our country are the proper processes of law and international law. It is this that forms the basis of our relations, friendship and our common course towards Europe, I think.”