Let's end the dogfights in the Aegean, Erdoğan said after meeting Mitsotakis in Athens

Mitsotakis Erdoğan

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described his visit to Athens after six years and his contacts with Kyriakos Mitsotakis as successful in a conversation with Turkish journalists on the return plane to Ankara.

The Turkish president spoke about the prospects for cooperation with Greece in the energy sector, mentioned the defence industry, and emphasised again that he wishes for calm "without dogfights" in the Aegean while pointing out that, in a discussion, he had with the Greek prime minister, he told him that "I wanted to see you on the side of Palestine", in the ongoing war in the Middle East.

"We have successfully completed our official visit to Athens at the invitation of the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Mitsotakis. As you know, we made the first official visit at the head of state level since 2017," Erdoğan said initially, outlining Thursday's visit.

"We were very happy to be in Athens again, this time on the occasion of the Cooperation Council. We held the last meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council, which we established during my tenure as Prime Minister in 2016. During today's visit, we held the 5th meeting of the Council after a gap of 7 years.

"During our meeting, agreement texts were signed in various fields, from education to agriculture, tourism to trade.

"First, we had a meeting with the President Katerina Sakelaropoulou. Afterwards, we met with the Prime Minister Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis. We co-chaired the 5th meeting of our Council, held with the participation of our ministers.

"During our meetings, as part of our visit, we reviewed all dimensions of our bilateral relations. We assessed the steps that can be taken to develop further our cooperation based on a positive agenda. Regional and global developments were also on our agenda.

"We put on the agenda the oppression taking place in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in Gaza. We shared our view that the international community should not remain silent in the face of the massacres being committed.

"We discussed what can be done to establish a permanent ceasefire and restore the unhindered flow of humanitarian aid."

Afterwards, he spoke about the signed friendship pact and the contact with the representatives of the Muslim minority in Thrace, whom he called "our compatriots."

"I signed with Prime Minister Mr Mitsotakis the Declaration of Athens for friendly relations and good neighbourliness. Thus, we mutually confirmed our will to develop our bilateral relations to the highest level.

"The two countries have the knowledge, experience, and will to resolve their problems peacefully without third-party intervention. To ensure this, I believe that our continued dialogue at a high level is of great importance.

"I invited my friend Mitsotakis to Ankara for the next meeting of the Council. During my visit, I also received the members of the Consultative Council of the Turkish Minority of Western Thrace. I talked to our compatriots and heard their problems.

"I once again expressed our support for them to benefit fully from the minority rights deriving from international agreements. I believe my visit, which took place in a very positive atmosphere, will open a new page in Greek-Turkish relations.

"I hope that our meetings and the decisions we will make will benefit our cooperation's future."

The Turkish president then spoke about the prospects of possible cooperation with Greece in the energy sector, even talking about "nuclear cooperation".

“We are trying to develop and expand this cooperation not only in the energy sector but also in all sectors, including nuclear energy. For example, we can provide resources to Greece from the energy of our nuclear power plant to be built in Sinop.

"As you know, we have decided to build an energy hub in Ataşehir. As you know, we have decided to become a centre for gas supply from Russia in Thrace to the Balkans and Europe. We agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on this matter.

"The tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean mainly negatively affect Turkey and Greece, the important countries of the region. For this reason, we must consider and strive for what opportunities we can draw from here and what opportunities we can create for the benefit of our countries. I can say that Mr. Mitsotakis has a positive approach to this issue.

"Our wish is: Let's move forward with the glass half full and not the empty side. Our attitude towards the fair distribution of the natural wealth of our region has been the same since the beginning.

"Just as we do not care about anyone's rights, so we have a strong will not to allow anyone to violate our rights. Moreover, inclusive and fair sharing is possible in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"It is enough to build the bases that will ensure it, create correct road maps and not allow challenges. This conference we propose to organise will be the right approach to create that base."

On the subject of the defence industry and the dogfights in the Aegean, the Turkish president said: "I can say with confidence that, as a country with a population of 85-86 million and an area of ​​780,000 square kilometres, we pay attention to our defence spending at a level that is not can be compared with Greece.

"Greece spends very differently from us in this area. Some countries, notably the European Union and the United States, seriously support this defence spending.

"Regarding the dogfights between Turkey and Greece in the Aegean, we said: 'Let's close this page and be done with it.' This is what we always told Mr. Mitsotakis and the prime ministers who served before him. We want to focus on friendship. We try to make friends.

"Greece's defence industry does not have production like ours. We have now acquired the ability to produce at a level that largely covers our needs in this area. For this reason, Turkey's spending on weapons purchases is incomparably lower than Greece's.

"We are a country that produces its own defence industry spending and has significantly reduced costs. We do not currently manufacture F-16s, but we are also able to repair and maintain them. Greece does not have such an opportunity.

"They only work with external support, and this support they receive from outside gives them the opportunity to do a new cost accounting."

Regarding the war in the Gaza Strip and his discussion with the Greek prime minister, Erdoğan said: "I told Mitsotakis today: 'We would like to see you on the side of Palestine.' I told him, 'I wish you had not been among those who abstained (from the UN) and had joined with these 121 countries.'

"Our task is to remind the truth. Many countries will continue to stand against the crimes against humanity in Gaza. We see that in some countries, the voices raised from the squares are beginning to achieve this.

"Some countries will be forced, in one way or another, to stand on the right side of history, even if belatedly, because of their convictions to protect international law, their sensitivity to human rights and their thoughts on the reduction of nuclear threats. This is why we have full faith that Palestine will win every time.

"The victory of Palestine means the victory of world peace and the restoration of the commitment to human rights. If we don't want a dysfunctional world system, if we don't want a ridiculed international law, we must support Palestine to win.

"Otherwise, the law of the powerful and the oppressors will prevail, which will spell disaster for the whole world."

READ MORE: How the Turkish press reported Erdoğan’s visit to Athens.

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