Erdoğan's 5 hours in Athens - The program and appointments of the ministers

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Shortly before leaving for London, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his close associates organised the details for the Supreme Cooperation Council with Turkey that will be held in Athens on December 7 yesterday in a short meeting at Megaros Maximos.

Against the initial leaks from the Turkish side, a tighter format was chosen, with fewer people accompanying Erdoğan, who will stay on Greek soil for a few hours. A visit with "surgical" planning, as a competent source put it so that there are no distractions that may divert the Greek-Turkish relations that are calming down despite the diametrically opposite positions of the two countries in the Middle East.

Erdoğan will arrive in Athens shortly before 11:00 that Thursday morning, accompanied by his associates, ministers, and journalists. It would be difficult for Erdoğan to come to Athens in the evening, given that the day before, there will be strict security measures due to the anniversary of the murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos.

Based on the same plan, Erdoğan will depart shortly after 3:00 p.m. unless his schedule is slightly extended. In any event, plans for a larger program that day, possibly including a dinner at the Acropolis museum, were shelved, and the idea of ​​bringing several Turkish business people with him was also not advanced.

Also, with today's situation, it seems that the prospect of the Turkish president's visit to Thrace, as he did in 2004 and 2017, is out of the question.

The meetings

Erdoğan's first appointment will be at the Presidential Palace, where Katerina Sakellaropoulou will receive him for the first time since 2017. While Erdoğan will be in the Presidential Palace, the ministers accompanying him will go to several ministries and have bilateral meetings with their counterparts.

At the Maximos Palace, where Erdoğan will be immediately after the Presidential Palace, the format of his one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister will be the same as in New York: on the Greek side, Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis and Mitsotakis' diplomatic adviser, Anna Maria Bura, and from the Turkish side, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and Erdoğan's diplomatic advisor Akif Çağatay Kılıç.

Immediately after the meeting, joint statements are planned, but there is no press conference. In contrast, immediately afterwards, a working lunch is prepared at Maximos, which will be perceived as the plenary session of the Supreme Council. The more "modest" program of the visit also brought the Greek side to a restriction of movement, as the original plan wanted the lunch to be held possibly on the seventh floor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministers

According to Proto Thema and beyond the group of foreign ministries (Deputy Minister Burak Akçapar will accompany Hakan Fidan), the ministerial "pairs" are formed as follows: the ministers of Defence Nikos Dendias and Yaşar Güler, the ministers of Finance Kostis Hatzidakis and Mehmet Şimşek, the Ministers of Immigration Dimitris Kairides and Interior Ali Yerlikaya, the Ministers of Tourism and Culture Olga Kefalogianni and Lina Mendoni respectively with the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Ersoi and the Ministers of Education Kyriakos Pierrakakis and Yusuf Tekin.

Not all ministers will sign bilateral agreements but will have bilateral discussions, according to diplomatic sources.

The message that Athens is sending is clear.

"The aim is to establish calm and to seal the improvement of bilateral relations with mutually beneficial agreements. Disagreements remain; however, the aim is that the disagreements do not produce bilateral crises," underlines government sources.

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