Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu and Greek Foreign Minister Dendias agreed in Brussels on March 20 that Turkey would support Greece’s membership in the UN Security Council in 2025-2026. Athens would support Ankara’s candidacy for Deputy Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization. In improving relations between Ankara and Athens, the Greek defense minister met with his Turkish counterpart during his trip to Turkey.
Even though the Greek authorities have expressed their satisfaction in recent weeks, at the end of the four-year term of the ruling conservative government, a perfect atmosphere has been created in bilateral relations with Turkey. They have emphasized the need to maintain the current atmosphere to start a fair and honest dialogue about the differences between the two countries. Still, they consider the readiness to talk with Turkey conditional on avoiding provocative actions by that country. They do not consider the remarks of some Turkish officials within the framework of the election campaign as being constructive and conclude that such movements do not help maintain the positive atmosphere created in the relations between the two countries in recent months.
Greece claims that in the current situation, it has only one fundamental dispute with Turkey, which is related to the delimitation of the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone which, of course, wishes to resolve the dispute peacefully and through honest and constructive dialogue based on international law and the international Law of the Seas. Athens hopes that exploratory talks with Turkey, of which 68 rounds have been held so far, will begin after holding elections in the two countries to reach an understanding between the two countries.
According to Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, whose positions are somewhat harsher than those of the Greek ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Turkey must make a big strategic decision after the upcoming elections. It has to decide whether it wants to establish close relations with Greece and try to solve the Cyprus problem. Turkey must change its approach towards the West or continue its pro-Russia and China policy. The Turkish leadership must understand that by distorting history and conventions and painting red (the color of the Turkish flag). These islands have always been blue (the color of the Greek flag) and will remain blue; the reality will not change. On the map of their country, they painted the Greek islands in the Turkish flag, which is not a positive measure. Perhaps they will return to reality after the election. Their future positions will also determine the prospects of Turkey-Greece relations and the possibility of achieving tangible progress in solving the Cyprus problem.
Greece responds to any aggression and does not engage in dialogue with anyone with incredible views, but on the other hand, it will welcome and reciprocate any goodwill. Referring to the aid sent by his country to Turkey after the earthquake, Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis emphasized that they cannot provoke his country while appreciating the resource sent and accepting the goodwill of the Greek side. Greece is ready to examine the dispute between the two countries regarding the delimitation of the maritime areas in the Aegean and the Mediterranean based on international law but will never tolerate questioning of its sovereign rights.
He is referring to the election propaganda image of the ruling party of Turkey, in which, in their election ads, the eastern islands of the Aegean Sea and northeastern Greece are shown as part of Turkey’s territory.
In this regard, in his milder position, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias expressed his satisfaction with the positive relations between Turkey and Greece. They stressed that the two countries should take more courageous and fundamental steps, such as the decision to support each other. This agreement is hoped to be the first step for a much more severe and significant upgrade. ‘If unwilling to accept the smallest risk, we will not get anywhere. If we think a brick might fall on our head outside the house, we may never leave the house in the morning’. He also hopes that after the elections in Turkey, a step can be taken to resolve the only disputed issue with that country. He says this solution can only be realized based on international law and the international Law of the Seas.
Nikos Panagiotopoulos, the Greek Minister of Defense, also believes there is a communication channel between the two countries. The current state of relations may lead to a better understanding between the parties. But he does not believe that Turkey’s strategic goals in the region will change in the long term. Today, relations with Turkey are at the best point in the past four years, but this has not caused the cancellation of Greek arms orders, and the country is determined to strengthen its deterrence power. He referred to the four main axes of the future government of the Neo-Democracy Party in the field of defense as “defense diplomacy, weapons, defense industries, and defense personnel.”
Athens is worried that Turkey will enter tensions in the relations into pressures of the electoral campaign. In recent weeks, Greece has been trying that the atmosphere of links will not return to the time before the earthquake and to keep open the window of opportunity that has been opened. But at the same time, it expects the new Turkish government to announce its opinion on Greece after the elections and without the pressure of the election campaign.
Although the Greek authorities consider the prospects of Greek-Turkish relations primarily related to the “election results,” they are well aware that the improvement of years of hostility between the two neighbors will be linked to numerous domestic and international factors with the victory of each side in the upcoming elections.