German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, September 16, 2020. [Michael Sohn,/AP pool]
Berlin’s intense efforts to start talks between Athens and Ankara were underlined by Wednesday’s teleconference German Chancellor Angela Merkel had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hours after the one with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
According to Anadolu, citing leaks from the Turkish presidency, Erdogan told Merkel he was determined to protect Ankara’s interests in the eastern Mediterranean.
Anadolu further reported that Erdogan stressed that the differences in the Eastern Mediterranean can be resolved through negotiations as long as there is a balanced approach and a “fair and consistent” attitude of European states.
Turkish sources also said Erdogan asked Merkel for assurances that this time there would be no obstacles to the negotiations, which were reportedly given by the German Chancellor.
Berlin appears to be stepping up efforts to get exploratory contacts, the forum in which Athens and Ankara will seek to agree on how to relaunch the dialogue effort, to begin as soon as possible.
It remains to be seen in the coming days whether the existing diplomatic triangle between Mitsotakis adviser Eleni Sorani, his counterpart in the German presidency Jan Hecker, and Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s representative, can lead to a tripartite meeting between the three countries. .
This, however, may be preceded by a telephone conversation (or teleconference) between Mitsotakis and Erdogan, an event that Sourani and Kalin are currently working on.
This was confirmed on Wednesday by Mitsotakis himself, in an interview with The Economist conference in Athens, claiming that his advisers and Erdogan’s are in contact and he felt that if they continued on the same course , the two men could speak on the phone.
Mitsotakis said he was ready to launch exploratory contacts “very, very soon”, saying that there is “a window of opportunity” for bilateral contacts.
At the same time, on Wednesday, Mitsotakis held talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades about the upcoming European Union summit (September 24-25).
Despite the relative de-escalation between Athens and Ankara, Nicosia remains on edge after Turkey this week announced the renewal of drilling for its Yavuz drilling vessel on the Cypriot continental shelf.
Also on Wednesday, Anastasiades received the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, whom he informed about Turkey’s latest shipping advisory, or navtex.
For his part, Michel said he had let Nicosia know that EU solidarity must be expressed in deeds and not in words.
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