Mevlut Cavusoglu on an official visit to Athens on Friday

Mevlut Cavusoglu on an official visit to Athens on Friday

Athens, March 3, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will be in Athens on Friday, March 4, after several postponements, due to the heavy program of both FMs.

In the meeting, which was preceded by the political consultations between the General Secretary of the Greek Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Dimitris Paraskevopoulos with the Turkish Under Secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu on Monday, will be discussed the refugee issue and bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the extraordinary summit on 7 March in Brussels, the Supreme Cooperation Council (G2G) on March 8 in Izmir and the Cyprus issue, which is high on the agenda, as consultations for it resolution are well under way.

Mr. Cavusoglu will meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the President of the Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos and his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias, while after the meeting between the two homologues will follow an expanded cooperation of the two ministries’ officials.

Greece and Turkey will seek common ground for cooperation in view of the extraordinary Summit for the management of the refugee crisis. The meeting will also focus on the preparation of the operational plan for NATO patrols in the Aegean.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry denied on Wednesday that Turkey has not given its approval to the NATO warships located in the Aegean to deploy in its territorial waters, in order to monitor the networks of imigrant smugglers between Turkey and Greece.

The Cyprus issue will be high on the agenda in the talks between N. Kotzias and M. Cavusoglu, as consultations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot side are at a very crucial point. The two FMs will also discuss the opening of chapters for Turkey’s accession course.

In an interview with the daily “Fileleftheros”, the Turkish Foreign Minister stressed for the first time that in order to have a lasting settlement of the Cyprus problem the concerns of the Greek Cypriots in the aspect of security should be taken seriously into account. He slao clarified, that Turkey is flexible on the issue of guarantees, but not much. He insisted that the aspect of safety and security should be discussed on a pentamer conference at the end of the resolution process, while he also moves the debate on territorial maps towards the end of the process. On the matters of property and territorial adjustments, M. Cavusoglu said that Ankara would support every point on on which both sides agree. The Turkish Foreign Minister assured that his country would contribute to the funding of the solution and noted that the basis for the settlement of the political problem is the joint Anastasiadis – Eroglu communiqué of February 11, 2014.

In the same interview, M. Cavusoglu believes that the announcement of the third licensing round for hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation in the Cypriot EEZ will have an impact in the convergence with the T/C, that the whole issue will be a federal jurisdiction after the solution. He acknowledged, however, that Turkey can not have a role in energy issues in the Eastern Mediterranean without the resolution of the Cyprus problem and if relations with Israel are not normalised.

One day after the Summit, on 8 March, the A. Tsipras will travel to Izmir, for the fourth Greek-Turkish Cooperation Meeting. The Prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign minister Nikos Kotziax, the State minister Nikos Pappas, the Government representative Olga Gerovasili, the Energy minister Panos Skourletis, the Transport, Infrastructure and Networks minister Christos Spirtzis and Tourism minister Elena Kountoura.

Trade, tourism, transport and energy will be in the agenda of the talks and contacts between Greece – Turkey. On the issues to be discussed is the ferry connection of Izmir with Thessaloniki and Istanbul with Igoumenitsa.

The resumption of Greece – Turkey exploratory talks on bilateral and regional issues was held in December 2015, a month that after the visit of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Turkey. Exploratory contacts between the two countries have been “frozen” since September 2014 when the Turkish seismographic vessel “Barbaros” had entered the Cypriot EEZ.