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Greek Prime Minister in Turkey; talks held on Improving Ties

The Turkish President and Greek Prime Minister met in Istanbul on 13 March and held talks to improve bilateral ties. Though the two neighbours and also NATO members have had differences and disagreements, they decided to work on improving communication. 

Given the current security situation in Europe, Ankara and Athens can play a crucial role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Despite their differences, both countries can coordinate and cooperate to improve the security situation in the continent. According to a statement by the Turkish presidency, both countries’ increased cooperation will have benefits for the region.

Turkey and Greece have differences over energy and maritime issues. They have differences over the status of the Aegean sea and handling of migrants.  

According to an official statement, “Despite the disagreements between Turkey and Greece, it was agreed at the meeting to keep communication channels open and to improve bilateral relations,” the statement said.”

The visiting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, apart from meeting the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also had a scheduled meeting at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Turkey, which shares a maritime border with both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea, has offered to mediate the ongoing conflict. Representatives of Russia and Ukraine have already met in Turkey to find a possible solution to the crisis. 

In 2021, Greece and Turkey decided to resume exploratory talks to address their own differences in the Mediterranean. It was after a gap of five years that the neighbours chose to speak to each other. However, these talks have hardly resulted in some tangible results.

The Greek government said that meeting sides stressed building a positive agenda, covering the economy. Both sides expect that there can be gains in the coming months following such exploratory talks. 

Mitsotakis acknowledged that “We (Greece and Turkey) have big differences which cannot be overcome just like that.”

From 2002 till 2016, both sides have held as many as 60 rounds of talks. In 2020, Ankara and Athens came pretty close to engaging in a confrontation, when Turkey sent a drilling ship to the contested waters of the Mediterranean Sea. 

The Greek prime minister said if the talks are held in good spirit, Greece might organise a High-Level Cooperation Council meeting in the coming months.