Erdoğan to Mitsotakis in Athens: "Turks and Greeks are brothers, there is no problem that cannot be solved"

Kyriakos Mitsotakis Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Athens on December 7 2023

Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent the message that the next step in Greece-Turkey relations may be the approach to delimiting the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zones in his statements after the meeting he had with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Maximos Palace.

Greek Prime minister also announced the signing of the declaration of friendship and good neighbourliness between the two countries 100 years after the Treaty of Lausanne, recalling the Venizelos-İnönü pact in 1930. Mr Mitsotakis also expressed the disagreement between Athens and Ankara in Cyprus, saying "I am sure that there are voices that do not agree with this approach, but we have a responsibility to bring the two countries side by side, as are our borders".

For his part, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his statements, used the term "brothers" for Greeks and Turks, adding that "there is no problem so big between us that it cannot be solved".

The Turkish president also chose to refer to the closure of the Lavrio camp and the "Turkish" minority in Thrace to elicit the Greek prime minister's response that "the definition of the [Muslim] minority is determined by the Treaty of Lausanne" with Mr Erdoğan not to follow up on this position.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Athens on December 7 2023

Mitsotakis' statements

At the beginning, Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke of a special day as the Supreme Cooperation Council meets after seven years. "I think that in itself signals the intention of the two countries to seek new creative avenues in their relations."

Looking back on the previous period, the Greek prime minister referred to crises such as the three-year pandemic, a war in the heart of Europe that caused energy and inflationary turmoil, and major natural disasters.

"At the same time, we faced and are facing regional conflicts that raise concern when they develop in the wider region," said Mr. Mitsotakis.

There have been moments that have dangerously threatened bilateral relations.

"But bilateral relations have experienced fluctuations as well. At times, they threatened them dangerously. And with them, security and peace in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. That is why the countries must be walking on a calmer path in the last few months," the prime minister continued.

"Greece and Turkey must live in peace, formulate their known disagreements, discuss solutions, and if these are not bridged, not automatically generate tensions and crises," said Mr Mitsotakis.

"And in this direction in Vilnius, we agreed to pick up the thread of our contacts with the aim of looking for ways of cooperation. The road map we adopted included three levels: political dialogue, positive agenda and confidence-building measures. And we ourselves, dear president, are meeting for the third time in six months," reminded the Greek Prime Minister.

Especially for today's Supreme Cooperation Council, he said, "We are making a new assessment of the efforts that led to new or improved agreements. Bilateral trade has exceeded 5 billion euros, and it is a realistic goal to reach 10 euros in 5 years."

"In immigration, we have seen a significant reduction in flows recently as a result of border guarding and the much better cooperation between the port police and coast guard of the two countries, and this cooperation can and must be further improved more.

"Regarding the constant support for Turkey's European accession perspective, our country supports the facilitation of granting visas within the framework of the European acquis. In addition, Greece requested and secured EU approval to activate the possibility for Turkish citizens and their families to visit all year round for seven days, 10 of our islands that either have refugee structures or have a direct ferry connection with Turkey."

The prime minister described the minorities of the two countries as a bridge of cooperation and friendship "because equality and prosperity that each state ensures to its minorities helps mutual understanding and mutual respect."

"We must converge in the observance of international legality, in absolute respect for the territorial integrity of states and in the protection of human values ​​and especially civilians," the Greek Prime Minister added in the report of the discussions he had with the Turkish president on issues such as the Middle East, Ukraine and the Caucasus.

"We disagree on the Cyprus issue; for us, there is no solution beyond those of the United Nations Security Council, and the dialogue must start from where it was interrupted in 2017. Only through it can there be a solution," added Mitsotakis.

Then the Greek prime minister recalled that in October 1930, a pact of friendship was signed by İsmet İnönü and Eleftherios Venizelos to announce 100 years after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne the conclusion of a declaration on relations of friendship and good neighbourliness "a declaration that Konstantinos Mitsotakis envisioned when he received the Abdi İpekçi Peace and Friendship Grand Prize in 1997.

"Declaration that we signed with absolute respect for the rights that derive from the sovereignty of each country. It defines the principles and milestones of dialogue and the limits of cooperation. The next step may be the approach for continental shelf and EEZ demarcation."

Erdoğan's statements

"I feel great satisfaction to be in Athens again. I would like to thank the prime minister for the welcome We want to promote the positive relationship that exists. We can hold this meeting once a year.

"We agreed to increase bilateral trade to 10 billion.

"Our wish is to solve common problems, including camps that support terrorists.

"The Turkish minority in Greece and the Roma community in Turkey are structural elements of our cultural wealth. I expressed the expectations for the improvement of the situation of the Turkish minority in Western Thrace.

"From the beginning, we said that we did not approve of targeting civilians in Gaza.

"We are neighbouring countries sharing the same sea, so it is quite natural that there are problems between two countries, let alone two brothers. We want to make the Aegean a sea of ​​peace.

"There is no problem so big that it cannot be solved. We are satisfied that Mitsotakis has such a perception. Thrace is an example of the coexistence of Christians and Muslims. The Treaty of Lausanne determines the definition of a minority.

"It is our duty to maintain and ensure a climate of harmonious coexistence. Greece assures that it will continue to work day and night in this direction."

READ MORE: Erdoğan gifted a book about Gaza to Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

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