US Secretary of State Antony Blinken left Athens on Tuesday with the understanding that Athens has all the good intentions to lay the groundwork that could lead to a candid dialogue with Turkey on the basis of all that Athen can discuss, and not on that of Ankara’s maximalist agenda and claims.
This was the basic message conveyed to Washington during the talks Blinken had with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
For his part Blinken conveyed to Athens a clear sense of relief in Washington, as, after the devastating earthquake in the south of Turkey and the shift of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s focus to the domestic front, Greek-Turkish tensions and the possibility of an incident during two parallel election periods have subsided, for the time being.
Although Erdogan is the only one who really knows, there is a feeling that the elections in Turkey will not be extended beyond June, and this is seen in Washington as a “window” of opportunity to create the conditions for a post-election dialogue.
This was hinted as much by Blinken during his joint statements with Dendias, expressing the hope that at an appropriate time the positive momentum following the earthquakes will create an even stronger foundation for the two countries to move forward and resolve the differences between them.
He added that, right now, it’s not exactly a secret that Greece and Turkey are going through an election period and it’s usually quite a confusing time to start discussions on such issues.
Both Mitsotakis and Dendias stressed that the solidarity that Greece is showing toward Turkey at this stage is distinct from foreign policy issues and is a humanitarian obligation rather than an investment in any direction. “It is our independent obligation to help our fellow Turks and Syrians,” Dendias said.
Well-informed sources said that during their meeting on Monday night, Mitsotakis reminded Blinken of the Turkish stance before the earthquakes on February 6 and since the 2019 Turkish-Libyan memorandum, the attempt to breach the Greek border with a refugee spike in March 2020, the Oruc Reis crisis later that year, as well as the letters linking Greek sovereignty of the east Aegean islands to their demilitarization. At the same time, the Greek side stressed that exploratory contacts, which Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has raised, cannot include sovereignty issues, as clearly implied by Ankara.
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