Greek PM says he is open to meeting Erdoğan

Greek PM says he is open to meeting Erdoğan

ATHENS – Agence France-Presse
Greek PM says he is open to meeting Erdoğan

Alamy Photo

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was always open to meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as tensions between the two historical rivals mount.

The two uneasy neighbors have for years feuded over maritime borders and energy exploration rights in disputed parts of the Aegean and in the eastern Mediterranean.

Athens also accuses Ankara of flying over Greek islands, while Türkiye has been angered by recent Greek defence agreements with France and the United States.

But at a press conference as part of the Thessaloniki International Fair, Mitsotakis said that he remained open to a meeting with Erdoğan but that he could not force one. “I consider recent statements by the Turkish president unacceptable. However, we will always try to keep communication channels open,” the Greek premier said.

He added that an informal EU summit early October in Prague might be a chance for this to happen.

Mitsotakis accused Türkiye of distorting reality. Erdoğan has repeatedly accused NATO ally Greece of “occupying” Aegean islands whose status was settled in post-war treaties.

Asked whether he thinks Türkiye is going to provoke a military conflict in the Aegean, the Greek prime minister answered that he could not “even imagine a military confrontation.” But he warned that in such a scenario Greece’s armed forces would give a “decisive answer.”

This week, Athens formally complained to the EU, NATO and the U.N. after Erdoğan warned in a speech: “We have one thing to say to Greece: Remember Izmir.” It was a reference to the 1922 fall of the western city of İzmir in Türkiye that was followed by its burning.