When Nikos Kotzias omitted to brief journalists after his lengthy meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday, his omission did not go unnoticed.
The meeting took place during the NATO summit in Brussels and it had the promise of a ‘cool change’ in the Greece-Turkey relationships, after weeks, if not months of tension which nearly led to conflict a number of times.
The Greek Foreign Minister’s recent stance marks a departure from that of his cabinet colleague, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, but also from his own sharp remarks towards his counterpart during this recent period.
The reason for this change of attitude lies in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey, which are to be held on 24 June. The Greek government expects the nationalist rhetoric to continue dominating the Turkish public discourse up until the elections. Adopting a more cautious approach towards Ankara, Athens aims to avoid conflict, while waiting to see the result of the elections.
One of the major points of concern for Athens is the possibility of Turkish election rallies being held in Thrace, where a sizable Muslim population resides, particularly Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his decision to deliver a campaign speech in Sarajevo, Bosnia on May 20.
Moreover, Greece believes that behind Turkey’s bellicose stance hides a strategy to divert attention from the refugee crisis, which should be the primary focus of both countries at the moment.
The Greek foreign ministry also decided to take a step back, after the US threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara over its planned purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.