Istanbul, Turkey – The 61st round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks meeting was held in Istanbul on January 25, 2021 after a long hiatus. The last meeting between the two sides took place in Athens on March 1, 2016. Greek-Turkish exploratory talks between the two countries, the first meeting occurred on March 12, 2002.

The 61st round of of exploratory contacts between Greek and Turkish delegations on January 25,2021 in Istanbul sent out more of a political message than making concrete progress.

The most important development was the participation of the representative of the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, who was not initially expected to attend.

According to analysts, the decision for Kalin to be present for the 61st round of contacts was a clear message from Turkey to show its desire to continue the process of exploratory contacts.

It was also seen as a message to Greece and EU that Turkey is showing with actions its intentions to de-escalate and resolve the problems.
In a tweet after the meeting, Kalin wrote that “it is possible to solve all problems, including the Aegean, and we have a will for this.”

“Regional peace and stability is in everyone’s interest,” he wrote.

The resumption of talks has been greeted positively by the European Union while the US on January 25,2021 welcomed “the commitment of both governments to this process.”

“We support all efforts to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the new State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said.

The next round of exploratory contacts is expected to take place in Athens at the end of February 2021 or, most likely, in March 2021, but certainly before the EU summit, to send a message to EU that the two countries are continuing the process of de-escalation and rapprochement.

Greece wants ‘tangible progress’ from Turkey in talks

Greece is expecting Turkey to make some “tangible steps of substantial progress” so that the exploratory talks that started in Istanbul on January 25,2021 can move ahead, diplomatic sources said after the meeting of the foreign affairs council.

The issues on which Greece wants to see progress include an end to the “continuing Turkish provocations” in the Aegean, Turkey’s threat of war (casus belli), its non-compliance with international law and in particular International Maritime Law, the same sources said.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said in a statement that ministers discussed “all aspects of the relations with Turkey” as identified in the December 2020 Council Conclusions, “including sanctions,” and reaffirmed “the importance of engaging with Turkey in order to advance in and consolidate paths of dialogue and cooperation.”