How does Athens see the meeting between Erdoğan and Biden?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Joe Biden Athens

The smiles in front of the cameras, which captured the coveted meeting that the Turkish President had in Madrid with his US counterpart Joe Biden after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ended his veto for Sweden and Finland to join NATO, has been commented on by Athens.

This image is transmitted by Greek diplomatic sources who had their antennas open and closely monitored what took place during the NATO Summit that continued on Wednesday in the Spanish capital and concludes today.

The topics of Greek interest of the Summit during the second day of its work were two:

  • on the one hand, the interventions of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who indirectly but clearly pointed out the destabilising role of Ankara in our region, as well as the game it plays in Ukrainian crisis, and
  • on the other hand, the Biden-Erdoğan meeting, which had long been – and for reasons of internal consumption in Turkey – the ardent desire of the Turkish President and was made possible after a day earlier Turkey folded and agreed not to block the enlargement of NATO.

It is well known – and almost acknowledged in many respects – that the way for Ankara to cancel its threat of veto on the accession of Finns and Swedes to the North Atlantic Alliance was opened mainly due to the backstage contacts that preceded between American and Turkish diplomats.

The Memorandum was signed by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Finnish counterpart and the Swedish Prime Minister in Madrid on Tuesday.

Based on the “reading” made by the Greek government at the Biden-Erdoğan meeting, the conclusion is, as sources told Proto Thema, that “the US President advised Turkish President Erdoğan to avoid provocations.”

It also highlighted the importance of stability in the southeastern Mediterranean. This position is based on the content of the official announcement issued after the meeting by the White House.

The statement said that the two Presidents “spoke about the importance of maintaining stability in the Aegean and Syria”.

It added that “President Biden reiterated his desire to maintain constructive bilateral relations and the leaders agreed on the importance of continued close consultation between our governments.”

In addition, these Greek sources point out that “from the whole discussion, nothing seems to have emerged about the Turkish F-16s and further the supply of military equipment from the USA to Turkey.”

Greek defence in Congress

Athens, however, knows that the US Department of Defence is openly in favour of upgrading Turkish F-16s.

That is why it is not surprising that US Assistant Secretary of Defence Celeste Wallander said just yesterday that these plans are being worked out and various procedures need to be done but the US supports the modernisation of Turkey’s fighter jet fleet.

Greece, note government officials, has made all the necessary moves and has even succeeded in participating in the F-35 program, something, however, that is not related to the current situation.

What became known yesterday, say the same officials, is related to a process that has been underway for a long time. This is the signing and sending of the Letter of Request (LoR) which is the first step in a long process.

In terms of Turkish equipment, the government acknowledges that it is extremely difficult for any country to ban the sale of armaments to another.

Nevertheless, in any case, the Mitsotakis government “has raised the issues of Turkish provocation and has informed in the most categorical way, especially Congress, which has an extremely important role in matters of armaments.”

It did not go unnoticed, however, that the Turkish President in his very brief intervention at the NATO Summit, which took place before the meeting with Joe Biden, limited himself to talking about the issues of the Summit agenda and avoided any clue about anything else.

For his part, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in his statement, stressed the importance of the Alliance showing unity, speed and determination in dealing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stressed the need to continue in this direction.

At the same time, he stressed that the sanctions decided to be applied by all members are very important for substantive and symbolic reasons, an emphasis that was a very clear hint of Turkey’s stance.

READ MORE: NATO: The background of the Turkish “yes” for Finland and Sweden – The Greek reaction.