The joint press conference of the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey Nikos Dendias and Mevlut Cavusoglu, after the end of their one-on-one meeting in Ankara, turned into a fierce confrontation in front of the cameras.
The controversy began immediately after the conclusion of the first round with a statement from Mr. Dendias. Annoyed, the Turkish minister took the floor, describing as “unacceptable” some of the Greek minister’s statements, forcing the latter to tell him that he did not expect Mr. Tsavusoglu’s reaction, “As if nothing was mediated in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.”
Highlights from the statements of the two ministers:
M. Cavusoglu: In the Aegean Sea, our opinions differ.
Problems between us can be resolved through constructive dialogue. Our opinions differ on the Aegean Sea issue. Provocative statements should be avoided. The Turkish President proposed to hold a summit on the Eastern Mediterranean. We must continue to fight terrorism together. We are working to expand trade cooperation between the two countries. Since coming to power, we have tried to follow the best practices on minority issues that exist in our country. The unconditional dialogue and visits of the heads of our states from both sides will become fertile ground for the development of our contacts. We must continue the dialogue we started today.
Dendias “extensive, open and honest negotiations”
For his part, Mr. Dendias spoke of “extensive, open and honest negotiations” and welcomed the resumption of contacts within the framework of political consultations with Turkey.
He noted that during the meeting, a number of regional and bilateral issues were discussed, as well as a number of proposals with the aim of revitalizing initiatives for economic cooperation between the two countries.
The Greek Foreign Minister initially spoke of “a positive economic agenda for the development of our relations” and “climate change in Greek-Turkish relations.”
At the same time, he stressed that “a necessary condition is de-escalation and prevention of actions and statements that strengthen the climate.”
“Greece supports the process of Turkey’s accession if it so wishes,” he said, stressing, however, that respect for the principles and values of the EU is an indispensable condition.
Regarding the upcoming dialogue on the Cyprus issue, he stressed the need “all parties will come to it in a constructive spirit”, noting that the only acceptable solution is “a two-zone, two-community federation, supported by all international participants. “
With regard to immigrants, Mr Dendias noted that he agreed with his Turkish counterpart that this is a “Euro-Turkish issue” and stressed the need for Turkey to comply with the obligations arising from the 2016 declaration, while recalling the instrumentalization of immigration in Evros.
He also said that canceling Turkey’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque would be “in the interests of Turkey and its international image.”
“Greece and Turkey,” he continued, “are destined to live together in an area where there are many difficult problems.” It is in the interest of both countries to work together in good neighborly relations for security, prosperity and peace. We do not ignore the fact that we have a long way to go, but we can take the first step today. “
Mr. Dendias recalled that a prerequisite for cooperation is the de-escalation of actions that strengthen it, and that the number of offenses has increased significantly recently, “worsening the climate.”
He also stressed that “false news and provocative rhetoric do not contribute to the creation of an atmosphere of cooperation,” and Dendias also invited Mevlut Cavusoglu to visit Greece.
Cavusoglu “Provocative statements”
Mr. Cavusoglu again took the floor, describing as “provocative” some of the statements of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, which, in his words, “we cannot accept them.”
Answering this question, Nikos Dendias noted, among other things, that all Greek arguments are based on international law, even emphasizing in some rejection of his speech that “Turkey should not teach law lessons for Greece”.