Greek-Turkish: Exploratory contacts set to begin, but is there a mood for dialogue?

Greek-Turkish: Exploratory contacts set to begin, but is there a mood for dialogue?

The Greek Foreign Ministry announced that Turkey had sent an invitation for the start of the 61st round of exploratory talks on January 25th in Istanbul, which was accepted.

The announcement of the acceptance of the invitation late Monday night by the Greek Foreign Minister was preceded by statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, as well as the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis from Lisbon for the resumption of the exploratory talks.

Specifically, Cavusoglu in joint statements with the Foreign Minister of the Turkish Cypriot Administration stated that “Greece had stated that negotiations could begin after January 11. Today is January 11. We want to extend an open invitation as Turkey. We call on Greece to start exploratory talks and to hold the first meeting in January. We will be the host country”.

Continuing, the Turkish Minister said that “the dates will be determined by our delegations, which will carry out these negotiations, together with their counterparts from Greece. But we are ready today. “As always, we are ready to discuss all issues as a country with confidence”.

Referring to what the discussions will include, he noted that “the agenda of the exploratory talks is definitely clear. We will discuss what we discussed with Greece for 60 rounds, the issues in question. After this first meeting, I am ready to go to Tirana in response to Edi Rama’s invitation and meet with the Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias. This is an invitation. I hope that Greece will not reject this opportunity, this invitation, and that exploratory talks will begin this month. “Then we can meet with Nikos Dendias in Tirana”.

The immediate response of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs was that it did not receive any invitation from the Turkish side, while from Lisbon, where the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was on an official visit, stated that “maybe it is time to stop stop kidding each other and sit at the table to find a date”, responding to the Turkish Minister.

In this climate, which does not foreshadow anything positive, since both sides are attempting a blame game, it remains to be seen whether there is a disposition for dialogue between the two sides.

Immediately after the Greek-Italian EEZ delimitation agreement, Turkey tried to drag Greece into a dialogue process, something that the Greek side did not accept due to Turkey’s provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean with the research vessel Oruc Reis.

What is striking is that despite the efforts of the EU, the German Presidency and NATO to launch a dialogue between Greece and Turkey, it has not been possible. Immediately after the visit of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to Athens, who had previously met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, there were rapid developments culminating in the resumption of exploratory contacts.

The Albanian media on the other hand give enough details for the next steps in the exploratory talks. According to the Top Channel correspondent, the foreign ministers of the two countries in a first meeting in Tirana will proceed to a “framework agreement”, with the first issue being a solution to the Cyprus problem this year, presented as a “federation”, and the second a “strategic friendship treaty, which will turn the Aegean Sea into an oasis of cooperation” and thirdly a “final solution” to the “sharing” of resources in the Aegean (an issue in which a legal solution is sought).

The agreement culminates, according to the report, with the demilitarization of the Aegean islands and an “intermediate formula” for the maritime zones, containing the midline and 12 miles for the Greek islands “where conditions allow”, but also technical conditions similar to the Greek-Italian agreement, which will allow fishing near Greek waters for Turkish fishermen.

The Albanian channel insists that this is the draft, as well as that “it seems that there is a will to complete it”, with the central idea of ​​the two parties to proceed where they can and the issues that remain open to be renegotiated in a following phase, in a process that is expected to take at least two years”, taking into account the chances that Greece will probably go to early elections this year”./ibna