Turkey’s president calls for stronger bond with Greece ahead of visit

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FILE PHOTO: Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis meets with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during a NATO leaders summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 12, 2023. Dimitris Papamitsos/Greek Prime Minister's Office/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Greece and Turkey should reinforce trust and deepen cooperation on common challenges as they try to solve their differences, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday before a trip to Athens.

“There is no problem we cannot solve through dialogue on the basis of mutual goodwill,” Erdogan told Kathimerini newspaper in an interview, a day before the two countries’ fifth High-level Cooperation Council (HCC) in Athens.

The neighbours and NATO allies have been at odds for decades over issues including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, overflights of the Aegean Sea, and ethnically split Cyprus. They reached the brink of war in the 1990s.

Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis agreed in July to resume talks and confidence-building measures as they hailed a new, “positive climate” in ties after more than a year of tensions over energy resources and defence issues.

Erdogan, who is due to meet Mitsotakis on Thursday, said that Turkey was honestly trying to resolve its differences with Greece and that Greece had realised that Turkey would never reject an extended hand of friendship.

“I will tell him, Kyriakos, my friend, we don’t threaten you if you don’t threaten us,” Erdogan told Kathimerini, adding that Athens and Ankara could solve their problems without foreign intervention.

He said cooperation could be enhanced in sectors including the economy, transport, energy and migration, where Turkey needed the support of the European Union, and that the renewed electoral mandate both leaders received this year could help the two countries make constructive progress.

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