Tayyip Erdoğan promises a new era in relations with Greece

Tayyip Erdoğan promises a new era in relations with Greece

Tayyip Erdoğan promises a new era in relations with Greece

Tayyip Erdoğan promises a new era in relations with Greece

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  • This announcement came as he commenced his first official visit to Athens.
  • In the meeting, the Turkish leader was expected to cover topics such as trade.
  • Ankara has played a crucial role in managing migration.
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Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan declared his intention to usher in a “new era” in the relationship with long-standing rival Greece. This announcement came as he commenced his first official visit to Athens since the year 2017.

“I believe that the Turkiye-Greece strategic cooperation meeting will lead to a new era” in relations, Erdogan told Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, adding that “we need to be optimistic, and this optimism will be fruitful in the future.”

During his meetings with Greek President Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the passionate Turkish leader was expected to cover topics such as trade, regional concerns, and the persistent issue of migration.

In an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini a day before his five-hour visit on Thursday, Erdogan expressed his desire for a “new chapter” in relations based on mutually beneficial principles.

Since a 2016 deal with the European Union, Ankara has played a crucial role in managing migration, a topic that Mitsotakis and other EU leaders aim to address and update.

Accompanying diplomats from Ankara are also engaging in discussions with Greek counterparts regarding the longstanding territorial disputes between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea.

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Erdogan has raised questions about century-old treaties defining Aegean sovereignty, and tensions persist with Turkish and Greek warplanes engaging in simulated confrontations in disputed airspace.

In 2020, Erdogan was observed in Athens motivating thousands of migrants to try to cross the border into Greece, leading to several days of confrontations with border guards.

Many interpreted this action as Turkey’s effort to bring the EU’s focus to the millions of asylum seekers in Turkey.

During that period, Erdogan also employed increasingly provocative language toward Greece, often tying it to his electoral campaigns.

Last year, he accused Greece of “occupying” Aegean islands and threatened: “As we say, we may come suddenly one night.”

But relations have improved since February, when Greece sent rescuers and aid to Turkiye after a massive earthquake killed at least 50,000 people.

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In an interview with Kathimerini on Wednesday, the Turkish leader mentioned that communication channels with Greece had been “renewed,” expressing anticipation for signing a declaration of bilateral friendship with Greece on Thursday.

“Kyriakos my friend, we do not threaten you if you do not threaten us,” Erdogan said.

“If differences are addressed through dialogue and common ground is found, this is to the benefit of all,” he added.

NATO allies, Mitsotakis favors settling differences at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

“It is important that disagreements do not lead to crises,” and that “every opportunity for dialogue — such as the very important (meeting) of December 7 — leads us forward,” Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis told state TV ERT this week.

Greek and Turkish ministers are set to participate in a meeting of the High Cooperation Council, a joint organization that hasn’t convened since 2016.

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