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MITSOTAKIS: Turkey must return to Cyprus talks

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Turkey must return to the negotiating table on the Cyprus problem and abandon its rhetoric of a two-state solution, as it will lead to a new deadlock.

In an interview with Greece’s SKAI TV, following his meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Vilnius, the Greek Premier believes Turkey is ready to shift its foreign policy.

He underlined that the meeting with the Turkish President was an opportunity for a restart in Greek-Turkish relations after four difficult years.

“Greece can only benefit from such a shift by Turkey.

“I am hoping for this policy to have continuity and consistency,” the Greek PM said.

Regarding Turkey’s European perspective and Greece’s position, Mitsotakis said Cyprus’ stance is also important.

He noted that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side must return to the negotiating table and abandon the position for the two-state solution.

“This position is a starting point that would mathematically lead us to a dead-end, and we should keep this in mind.”

The last round of negotiations, in July 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Greco-Turkey ties

Erdogan and Mitsotakis held a rare in-person meeting on Wednesday and agreed to build on the “positive momentum” forged after this year’s deadly earthquakes in Turkey.

They held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, which took place in a “good atmosphere,” the Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications said.

The two leaders agreed it is “to the benefit of both countries that the positive climate that emerged in bilateral relations in recent months has continuity and consistency,” it added.

Mitsotakis said: “I hope and look forward to building on this positive climate and making some important steps of progress.”

“As I have said many times, we are not condemned to live in a constant climate of tension with Turkey.”

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the region, doesn’t recognize that Greek islands off its borders have a continental shelf and rejects maritime boundary claims of Greece.

Erdogan had hosted a March 2022 meeting with Mitsotakis in Istanbul, but the relationship rapidly soured in the following months.

Greece accuses NATO ally Turkey of stepping up hostility in the Eastern Mediterranean over their outstanding conflicts, including overlapping claims over their airspace, divided Cyprus, irregular migration, and the status of the Aegean islands.

The rhetoric was toned down in February when Greece sent aid and rescue teams immediately after a massive earthquake that killed over 50,000 people.

What is known in the two nations as “earthquake diplomacy” also came into play in 1999 when two deadly quakes struck Turkey and Greece within a month of each other.

It brought about a thaw in relations just three years after the NATO allies had nearly gone to war over an uninhabited islet in the Aegean Sea.