US President Joe Biden had been absolutely clear in his message to the Turkish president during their meeting regarding the need to avoid tension in the Aegean and in Syria, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a press conference on Thursday, after the conclusion of a summit meeting by NATO leaders in Madrid. When asked whether he considered that Erdogan will comply, the Greek prime minister replied:
“I too saw the White House press release regarding the meeting between President Biden and President Erdogan. I think that it was a very clear, a very straightforward message that tensions must be avoided in the Aegean and in Syria. A direct suggestion to Turkey to return to the table for talks and avoid the extreme rhetoric that we have, unfortunately, been subjected to these last months.”
In terms of NATO, Mitsotakis said the Alliance is significantly reinforcing its eastern wing in order to be able to present a deterrent force against any ambitions Russia may harbour against member-states of the Alliance.
“The Summit has very great geopolitical significance for the future of NATO, as it settled on the new strategic concept, which updates the priority of the Alliance in the face of the challenges that we will be called upon to face in the coming decade. Obviously, Russia is a strategic opponent of the Alliance at this time and for this reason we are proceeding as an Alliance with a significant reinforcement of the eastern wing of NATO, so that we are able to present a deterrent force against any ambitions that Russia may harbour against member-states of NATO,” Mitsotakis said.
Commenting on Turkey, the Greek premier said that at no time in the many discussions held during the summit “did Turkey raise any issue whatsoever that concerned the presentation of its own arguments against Greece,” while adding:
“I think this indicates something about how well these arguments are able to stand up in an international environment, such as that of NATO, or whether it is finally a line of argument that is more targeted toward [Turkey’s] domestic public opinion.”
Responding to questions, the prime minister said he did not expect a repetition of the summer of 2020 in Greece’s relations with Turkey, while appearing confident that he will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the future at some time, in spite of the latter’s recent statements.
“We must meet, we must talk and we must deal with our differences in a civilised manner, in a framework of good neighbour relations and with international law as the sole point of reference. There is no other framework on which we can rely and resolve our differences,” Mitsotakis said.
Apart from this, he added, it was made clear to all parties that the attention of NATO member states at this time was focused on Ukraine:
“I do not think there is any understanding or tolerance for opening up any other discussion, possibly destabilising the Alliance on some other geographical front. This, I think, says it all and this is why I continue to believe that we will not have any mobility in the field and that we will not have a repetition of the summer of 2020.”