Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg started a two-day visit to Turkey and Greece on Monday (5 October 2020). While in Ankara, Mr. Stoltenberg will have discussions with President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan and senior government officials about the security situation in the region, NATO’s support for Turkey, and the establishment of a military de-confliction mechanism with Greece.
Following a meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Secretary General praised Turkey’s contributions to NATO missions, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. Mr. Stoltenberg also highlighted NATO’s strong commitment to Turkey’s security by augmenting its air defence against missile attacks from Syria, and by increasing the Alliance’s air and naval presence.
The Secretary General welcomed the establishment of a military de-confliction mechanism to reduce the risks of incidents and accidents in the eastern Mediterranean. This includes a commitment to use a secure hotline that has been set up between Greece and Turkey. Mr. Stoltenberg said: “The mechanism was achieved through the constructive engagement of Turkey and Greece at NATO Headquarters. I welcome this and pay tribute to both Allies for their efforts, and we stand ready to develop it further.” He added: “The de-confliction mechanism can help to create the space for diplomatic efforts. It is my firm hope that the underlying disputes can now be addressed purely through negotiations, in the spirit of Allied solidarity and international law.”
During their discussions they also addressed the situation in Libya and Syria, the continued violence in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, and Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 system.
The Secretary General will meet with President Erdoǧan and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar later today. On Tuesday, Mr. Stoltenberg will be in Athens for talks with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and members of the Greek government./ibna