Turkish President Erdogan engage in intense diplomacy traffic at NATO leaders’ summit

Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets NATO leaders on sidelines of Vilnius summit in Lithuania’s capital
Busra Nur Cakmak |
12.07.2023 – Update : 13.07.2023


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has engaged in intense diplomacy traffic in Lithuania, which he is visiting for the NATO leaders’ summit, for three days.

The 31 leaders of the military alliance met for the summit to discuss the Ukraine war, Sweden’s NATO membership, and steps to strengthen the group’s defense and deterrence, among other issues.

Erdogan arrived in Vilnius on Monday and met several leaders at the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre (LITEXPO), the venue of the two-day NATO meeting that began on Tuesday.

On Monday, Erdogan met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to discuss Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

Türkiye has agreed to send Sweden’s NATO accession protocol to parliament following a trilateral meeting with Sweden and NATO, Stoltenberg said Monday.

Erdogan met European Council President Charles Michel on Monday as well.

Michel on Twitter said they “explored opportunities ahead to bring EU-Türkiye cooperation back to the forefront & re-energise our relations.”

He added that the Council has asked the foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, and the European Commission to submit a report “with a view to proceed in strategic & forward-looking manner.”

Michel said he also commended Erdogan for “the central role Türkiye played in brokering and ensuring the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”

“We also discussed Sweden’s accession to @NATO, also in view of improved EU-Türkiye relations.”


Day 1 of NATO summit

The Turkish president’s diplomacy traffic continued on Tuesday, the first day of the NATO summit.

In a meeting on the margins of the summit, Erdogan and US President Joe Biden addressed several topics, including bilateral ties, security cooperation, and regional issues.

“We discussed our bilateral relations and the possibilities of cooperation in the security field during our meeting,” Erdogan said on Twitter, expressing hope for a positive outcome of the bilateral contacts.

Separately, Türkiye’s Communications Directorate said on Twitter that “during the meeting, political, economic, and commercial relations between Türkiye and the US, cooperation opportunities in security and regional issues were discussed.”

Erdogan later met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Day 2 of NATO summit

On the second day of the leaders’ summit, Erdogan first met Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Later he met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and “the meeting took place in a good atmosphere,” as the Turkish Communications Directorate said on Twitter.

“President Erdogan and Mr. Mitsotakis agreed that it is to the benefit of both countries that the positive climate formed in bilateral relations over recent months has continuity and consistency.”

The sides reached an agreement to build on the positive momentum and launch communication channels between the two countries in the upcoming period, it added.

Erdogan and Mitsotakis agreed to a meeting of the Türkiye-Greece High-Level Cooperation Council to be held in Thessaloniki, Greece in the fall.

“In addition, they tasked the two foreign ministers to guide the process and report on progress,” the statement added.

The two leaders emphasized their desire for more frequent communication at all levels, with the aim of building a climate of trust and creating the necessary circumstances for improving Türkiye-Greece relations, it said.

Erdogan also discussed bilateral and regional issues with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in a closed-door meeting at LITEXPO.

He later met EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.