Türkiye and Greece Tuesday evening announced they will be building on a positive atmosphere that flourished since earlier this year in their bilateral relations.
“The two sides agreed to build on the already existing positive atmosphere in order to identify areas of agreement and cooperation at the bilateral and international level,” the two countries said in a joint statement released after consultations between their deputy foreign ministers in the Greek capital Athens.
On the 5th round of talks on Monday between Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akçapar and his Greek counterpart Konstantinos Frangogiannis on the Joint Action Plan in the context of the positive agenda, the statement said: “The two sides reaffirmed their common goal to deliver tangible results for the 5th Supreme Cooperation Council (SCC), to be held on Dec. 7 2023 in Thessaloniki (Greece), on issues related to the Positive Agenda, such as entrepreneurship, tourism, transport, energy, science.”
On Tuesday’s political consultations between Akçapar and his Greek counterpart Alexandra Papadopoulouon, the statement said: “They reviewed the preparation procedures for the upcoming Supreme Security Council in December, as well as existing channels of communication, including Confidence-Building Measures and exploratory/consultative talks.”
“In this context, both sides expressed their commitment to continue the dialogue, with a view to reaching a common understanding,” it added, noting that regional and bilateral issues were also discussed during the meeting.
There has been a rapprochement in Turkish-Greek relations in recent months, encouraged by the goodwill and humanitarian assistance shown on both sides earlier this year when southeastern Türkiye was rocked by two deadly earthquakes and Greece suffered a tragic train incident.
Both sides have warned against steps and statements that could damage the current environment of trust as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis pledged to maintain the positive atmosphere after holding two rare face-to-face meetings.
The sides have also revived their high-level strategic peace talks with an upcoming summit in Thessaloniki in December, which is expected to be an important leap in bilateral ties as Erdoğan will be making the trip over the Aegean Sea and meet Mitsotakis in person.
Relations between the neighbors have been strained for decades over several longstanding issues, particularly competing claims to jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.
Athens, however, has claimed the only problem they’re willing to discuss with Türkiye is the delimitation of maritime borders, dismissing all other concerns.
Issues of sovereignty will not be topics of negotiation, nor issues concerning the islands of the Eastern Aegean, Mitsotakis recently argued.
Tensions flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea – where Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration claim exclusive economic zones – leading to a naval standoff.
Athens has also been carrying out an ambitious rearmament program, building a military presence on the disputed Aegean islands in violation of postwar treaties, something Ankara has warned against, arguing that the continued militarization could lead to Türkiye questioning their ownership.
Turkish officials have said dialogue must be maintained “without preconditions.”
The sides have traded accusations over airspace violations but there haven’t been any skirmishes in the past three years.
Pundits argue, that despite the severity and longevity of their troubles, the lack of a hot conflict in the Aegean highlights success for the neighbors in their mutual willingness to bury the hatchet.
Source: Daily Sabah