Amidst international expectations of a renewed push to jump-start Cyprus settlement talks, PM Alexis Tsipras and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the full range of bilateral relations during a one-hour meeting today on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York.
The two countries’ foreign ministers, Nikos Kotzias and Mevlut Cavuoglu were present at the meeting, as was Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, who was serving as chairman of Turkey’s Joint Chiefs of Staff when he was tapped for the cabinet post.
This was the first meeting between the two leaders since Ankara on 15 August released two Greek army officers that had been incarcerated in a Turkish prison for over five months, after being arrested in the Evros border region. The incident had heightened tensions between the two countries.
However, beyond the niceties and broad smiles, there were indications of a gradual normalisation of the two countries’ relations, as Erdogan invited Tsipras to Istanbul for talks.
Greek analysts and pundits have expressed the view that the crisis in US-Turkey reations has pushed Erdogan to seek to draw closer the EU, and that Greece can play a key role in promoting that objective.
Aside from the prospect of renewed Cyprus talks, energy issues and Turkey’s hostile activity in Cyprus EEZ Aegean, Greek government sources said that Aegean tensions and implementation of the EU-Turkey refugee agreement were high on the agenda.
The Greek PM’s office publicised the meeting with a tweet: “Μeeting with the President of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the sidelines of the 73rd UN General Assembly # UNGA”.