Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to make an official visit to Turkey on February 5, 2019.
Tsipras will be arriving after an invitation came from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who extended the invite on the sidelines of a UN summit in New York late September.
Tsipras met on Tuesday with the Presidents and Prime Ministers of France, Spain, Italy, Malta, and Cyprus for the at the fifth Southern EU Countries (MED7) Summit taking place in Nicosia.
During his statement, Tsipras mentioned to his counterparts that he is scheduled to visit Turkey and meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday, February 5 and that he intends to convey to him that all 7 leaders present at the Summit agreed on the fact that Turkey’s relations with each individual country and with the EU as whole need to be anchored on mutual respect as well as respect of the international law.
In this context, he continued, “we support a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, based on UN decisions and the European acquis.”
Furthermore, he stressed that any profits from the exploitation of natural resources within Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) must be to the “benefit of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike”.
Finally, Tsipras stated that “the message we send here today is one of joining forces in the direction of finding common European solutions,” and concluded by envisaging a “Europe that is more efficient, democratic, and social and which will be able to play a key role in the international arena, as a pillar of peace and stability.”
Tsipras said that the meeting of the seven leaders is of great significance, as it sends the message that they remain united and determined to defend Europe’s fundamental values and international law, as well as the prospect of European integration, and shows their willingness to play a crucial part in developments in Europe and the periphery.
The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral issues and peace talks on Cyprus, among other issues.
Tensions have been soaring between Greece and Turkey over an array of issues in the past year, including ongoing violation of air space, natural reserves in the Mediterranean Sea and sovereignty in the area of the Aegean.