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Greek and Turkish foreign ministers to meet

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Greek and Turkish foreign ministers to meet

Greek Turkish foreign ministers
Photo: Fatih Aktas/ Turkish Foreign Ministry

Greek and Turkish officials will meet in Ankara today to discuss the Eastern Mediterranean maritime dispute.

The meeting will likely see Turkey temporarily and tactically soften its stance against Greece as part of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent charm offensive directed at the EU and US. Following the economic decline and international isolation that Turkey experienced in 2020, Erdogan’s last resort is now to band-aid the country’s deteriorating economy and secure foreign policy wins ahead of possible early elections in 2022. The EU has further bolstered this agenda by signaling that de-escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean will be rewarded with economic and migration cooperation.

While Ankara remains fully committed to the Turkey-Libya maritime delineation agreement at the core of the dispute, Erdogan is gradually shifting away from the previously-championed “Blue Homeland” doctrine driving Turkey’s maximalist maritime policy. This was first evident in May 2020 with the removal of a key advocate of the doctrine, but became even more evident when ten retired admirals were detained for demanding Erdogan’s commitment to a historic maritime convention granting Turkey full control over the Turkish Straits. Although Erdogan’s policy shift primarily seeks to eliminate perceived domestic rivals from within the military, it could potentially serve Greece’s interests in today’s talks.

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