Mr.Gerapetritis and Mr.Fidan talked privately for two hours and it is indicative of the good atmosphere that they chose to continue directly with the lunch, together with their partners, without making any statements to the press beforehand.
An extension of the Greek-Turkish lull of the last few months with the prospect of this lasting for some time to come, while the Greek-Turkish dialogue continues. This is the main conclusion of the open and good-climate discussion held yesterday in Ankara by Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis and his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, who are tasked by Mitsotakis and Erdogan to handle all stages of the Greek-Turkish dialogue that will resume in the coming months.
A lunch was also held in a cordial tone, with the two discussing a lot about the prospect of Euro-Turkish relations, given that EU Enlargement Commissioner Varheli will be in Ankara today with an important "package" and Mr. Fidan reportedly appeared interested in a revival of the neighbour's accession perspective. Something which, given the difficulties, would also mark a period of calm in the Euro-Turkish balance after a long time. At the same time, the Greek side also raised developments in the migration issue, where there has been a significant increase in flows recently, with the Turkish side responding that there will be better cooperation in the coming period, while the issue was a major part of the one-on-one discussion.
The tangible outcome of the meeting, however, is the precise identification of the next Greek-Turkish appointments. First of all, the meeting between Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Tayyip Erdogan on the Monday after next, the 18th of this month, in New York, two months after their meeting on the sidelines of the NATO Summit. Mr. Gerapetritis and Mr. Fidan have prepared the "material" for the discussion, which will take place in a completely different environment following the recent decline in Turkish provocativeness on the ground.
Beyond that, the political dialogue will be handled on behalf of Greece by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandra Papadopoulou and her Turkish counterpart Burak Aktsapar, with the relevant Greek-Turkish meeting scheduled for October 16, while the meeting of Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Fragogoyannis with Mr. Aktsapar on the several issues of the so-called "positive agenda" will probably take place on October 13. At the same time, the two defence ministries will coordinate in order for the military committees to reroute the MoU in the coming weeks, while a first discussion is pending between Minister Nikos Dendias and his counterpart Yasar Güler for a meeting in the coming weeks. It seems, however, that the military moratorium will continue for the next sufficient period.
The culmination of Greek-Turkish meetings this year will be the High Cooperation Council in Thessaloniki, which seems to be shifting towards early December, under Mitsotakis and Erdogan, where there will be a large attendance with several ministers from each side. In fact, it seems that there will be several mature projects to be signed by the two leaders from the "package" of the positive agenda.
Open channels, avoiding provocations
What Athens maintains is that the good atmosphere of the discussion was reflected in the statements made by the two ministers, with an extremely careful "choreography". The preparation between the two foreign ministries, moreover, was constant and in some cases exhaustive. No questions were asked that could mine the good atmosphere, and Mr. Fidan made no reference to the islands, nor to a Turkish minority in Thrace, although he again used the phrase "expatriates". At the same time, he said that a mutually beneficial sharing in the Aegean could be done, but without going into details that could create irritation on the Greek side. In fact, according to protothema.gr, there was a reference to the need to avoid statements by non-governmental officials that cause confusion and "strike sensitive chords".
The conclusion drawn from the information arising from the meetings, however, is that The Hague is still far away, as the two ministers avoided getting into the substance of the Greek-Turkish disputes. But because Hague may still remain an uncertain prospect, the two ministers can accept that the two countries agree to disagree and organize their bilateral communications around this axis.
No one on the Greek side, meanwhile, is under any illusions that the path from here on out will be easy and without turbulence. A... spark, after all, is enough to reignite tensions, but Mr. Gerapetritis and Mr. Fidan have decided to identify the differences that exist and through the open channels that will exist there will be a rapid decompression of crises. They themselves, moreover, maintain a direct channel of communication, while progressively opening lines of communication at many levels.