Turkish President’s visit to Greece forges a new era

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan smile after signing a joint declaration to pursue good neighbourly relations at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, December 7, 2023.Dimitris Papamitsos/Greek Prime Minister’s Office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is currently in Greece with the aim of improving strained relations between the neighbouring NATO allies and ushering in a “new era” in their relationship after years of hostility. Greece and Turkiye have longstanding disputes over issues such as the delimitation of their continental shelves, energy resources, overflights in the Aegean Sea, and the ethnically divided Cyprus.

Despite decades of confrontation, both countries signed a joint declaration on Thursday to pursue good neighbourly relations. After meeting with Erdogan, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed a historical responsibility to bring the two states closer together. Erdogan, in discussions with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, underscored the potential for a new era in Turkiye-Greece relations and stressed the importance of optimism for future cooperation. The leaders discussed the goal of nearly doubling the bilateral trade volume to $10 billion from the current $5.5 billion.

The talks also touched upon updating the 2016 migration deal between Greece and the European Union with Ankara. Both countries’ coastguards have cooperated on migration, and there is a possibility of an agreement to station officers from each country on specific islands and ports. Some issues that previously brought Greece and Turkyie to the brink of war are expected to remain off the current agenda.

Erdogan’s last visit to Athens in December 2017 resulted in disagreements over the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 and accusations regarding the division of Cyprus. However, the current visit aims to foster improved relations and cooperation between the two nations, who were at odds in the last years, impacting their NATO or EU relations.

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