Greek PM to Erdogan: ‘Let’s give diplomacy a chance’

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 25 September 2020

Greek PM to Erdogan: ‘Let’s give diplomacy a chance’

  • Greek PM pointed to the UAE’s recent recognition of Israel as a sign that Greece and Turkey can overcome historic animosity
  • Kyriakos Mitsotakis: I refuse to believe that partnership between near neighbors is not possible

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis appealed Friday to Turkey to find a diplomatic solution to tensions, saying he wanted partnership between the historic rivals.
Mitsotakis accused Turkey of “aggression” with its recent search for energy resources in contested waters but said, “I remain an optimist.”
“So let’s meet, let’s talk and let’s seek a mutually acceptable solution. Let’s give diplomacy a chance,” Mitsotakis said to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an address to the virtual UN General Assembly.
“If after all we still cannot agree, then we should trust the wisdom of the International Court at The Hague,” Mitsotakis said, reiterating an offer from Greece.
In a recorded message before the backdrop of the Acropolis, Mitsotakis pointed to the United Arab Emirates’ recent recognition of Israel as a sign that Greece and Turkey can overcome historic animosity.
“I refuse to believe that partnership between near neighbors is not possible,” Mitsotakis said.
Turkey last month sent a vessel backed by military frigates to hunt for oil and gas reserves in waters also claimed by Greece.
Greece responded with naval exercises as a warning and has enjoyed support within the European Union, especially from France.
The tone has recently softened with Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, agreeing Tuesday to begin exploratory talks on their dispute.
In his own address to the General Assembly on Tuesday, Erdogan said that Turkey wanted to “settle disputes with sincere dialogue, based on international law and on an equitable basis.”
The easing of tensions comes two days before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to visit Greece in a strong sign of support.
Pompeo will travel both to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city which has historic Turkish roots, and to the southern island of Crete, where he will meet the conservative premier at his home and visit the NATO base at Souda Bay.
A US official said Pompeo would focus on building relations with Greece but also offer support for diplomacy with Turkey.
“Certainly the ability to deconflict and then have discussions and dialogue is so important between these two NATO allies, Turkey and Greece,” the official told reporters on customary condition of anonymity.
Dialogue “reduces the likelihood of any accidents or incidents, so we continue to encourage Greece and Turkey to move forward on that and ideally be able to complete an agreement.”
But the official said the United States did not recognize the so-called Seville Map drawn up by Spanish scholars that Greece has cited in defending its maritime zone.
Turkey has insisted that the Seville Map not be the basis for any discussions on the Mediterranean.
“We take no position on maritime boundary issues or generally how states should delimit their maritime boundaries,” the US official said.
The United States, however, has recently pushed back sharply against China’s claims in the dispute-rife South China Sea.
President Donald Trump has maintained warm relations with Erdogan, controversially speaking to him before ordering a US withdrawal from Syria.
But Greece in recent years has become an increasingly strategic US ally in part due to its embrace of growing ties with Israel, a major focus for US foreign policy.


Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.