Greece and Turkey commit to dialogue


An article from Neos Kosmos

During a visit by Greece’s Minister for National Defence Nikos Panagiotopoulos to areas affected by the disastrous earthquake in February, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar emphasised the need for peaceful means to address longstanding issues, including maritime boundaries and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

A handout photo made available by the Turkish Defence Ministry Press Office shows, Turkish Defence Minister Akar Hulusi (L) and Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos (R) in a helicopter in Hatay, Turkey. Photo: AAP /Turkish Defence Ministry handout

The earthquake brought about an opportunity for both nations to work together and offer support, leading to a de-escalation of tensions. The willingness of both countries to collaborate during times of crisis highlights the potential for future cooperation and conflict resolution.

“I hope that as two civilized countries, Turkey and Greece can solve these problems within the framework of good neighbourly relations (…) through peaceful means and methods and amid mutual respect and dialogue,” Akar told reporters.

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“Our hope and expectation is that the positive, constructive atmosphere we experienced after the earthquake disaster will continue (…) and the doors of dialogue will remain open,” he said.

The Defense Ministers of Turkey and Greece recently visited areas affected by an earthquake to survey the damage and discuss ways to ease tensions between their countries. The officials traveled to the hardest hit province of Hatay and flew over the affected areas via helicopter. Additionally, Greece’s Minister for Migration and Asylum, Notis Mitarachi, visited a refugee camp located near the Turkish-Syrian border to assess the situation and provide support.

Panagiotopoulos said “The symbolic message that comes from tragedies and natural disasters of this scale go far beyond any disagreement and differences that we may have. They may act as a lever to reduce tension and create the circumstances to facilitate better communication between the two sides.”

“The aim (…) and we must work toward that, is to create an atmosphere of cooperation and stability between our two countries,” he added.

Greece and Turkey resumed high-level meetings following the earthquake, including talks aimed at boosting trade and other cooperation in areas unrelated to the disputes.

Prior to that, tensions had flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas in the Mediterranean Sea where Greece and Cyprus claim their own exclusive economic zone, leading to a naval standoff.

Turkey had also blasted Greece for maintaining a military presence on eastern Greek islands that it maintains violates international treaties. Greece countered that it faces a direct threat from Turkey, which has a significant military presence on the Turkish coast near the islands.