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Erdogan to call for energy cooperation with Cyprus in Greek talks (Updated)

file photo: greece's prime minister mitsotakis meets turkey's president erdogan during a nato leaders summit in vilnius
FILE PHOTO: Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis meets with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan

President Nikos Christodoulides will speak with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitstotakis on Thursday, following the latter’s meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the press briefing, he said that Mitsotakis and Christodoulides are in constant communication, and that the two will speak on Thursday after Mitsotakis meets Erdogan.

Asked if the Cyprus problem will be among the topics Greece and Turkey discuss, Letymbiotis said: “The Cyprus problem is always high on the Greek government agenda.”

He added that any improvement in Greece-Turkey relations is not irrelevant to the Cyprus problem, which is something that Mitsotakis himself had mentioned previously.

In an interview with the Kathimerini newspaper on Wednesday ahead of his visit to Athens, Erdogan mentioned Cyprus, when discussing the hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean.

He repeated the proposal for co-exploitation of the energy resources in the maritime area of Cyprus “until a comprehensive solution is reached on the island”.

“I will tell him, Kyriakos, my friend, we don’t threaten you if you don’t threaten us,” Erdogan told Kathimerini, adding that Athens and Ankara could solve their problems without foreign intervention.

He said cooperation could be enhanced in sectors including the economy, transport, energy and migration, where Turkey needed the support of the European Union, and that the renewed electoral mandate both leaders received this year could help the two countries make constructive progress.

The two leaders hope the meeting can turn a new page in relations after years of tensions.

Greece and Turkey, neighbours and Nato allies, have been at odds for decades over issues including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, overflights of the Aegean Sea, and ethnically-split Cyprus.

Over the past years they have argued over energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, defence issues, migration and the acquisition of fighter jets, which paused diplomatic talks.

Relations improved after Greece sent aid to Turkey following a devastating earthquake in February. Both Erdogan and Mitsotakis’ re-elections this year also eased political pressure and allowed them to put rivalry aside.

“We want to give emphasis on a positive agenda that is mutually beneficial,” a Greek government official said ahead of the Greece-Turkey fifth High-level Cooperation Council.

Erdogan is expected to meet Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Mitsotakis around noon. It will be the leaders’ third meeting since July, when they agreed to resume talks at all levels.

The meetings will produce a joint declaration and agreements in sectors including the economy, health, education, agriculture, migration and tourism, according to government officials.

Greece got permission from the European Union to re-enable Turkish citizens to apply for a seven-day tourist visa for 10 islands close to the Turkish coast, a move expected to be announced during the visit, as evidence of goodwill, the officials said.

Both countries want to show they are willing to mend ties.

Turkey has been seeking EU membership for more than two decades. Following a debt crisis that rocked the euro zone, Greece wants to regain its footing and appear as a pillar of stability in a changing geopolitical landscape due to the war in Ukraine and the Gaza conflict.

Despite expressions of goodwill, little progress is expected on thorny, long-standing bilateral issues according to officials in both countries.

Athens has said that it will only discuss the demarcation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, not issues of “national sovereignty”.

Erdogan on Wednesday reiterated Turkey’s stance that all issues should be discussed, if the dispute is taken to the International Court of Justice.

“They are all interrelated,” he told Kathimerini.

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