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Turkiye and Greece can create burst of opportunities, says foreign minister

May 17, 2023 at 8:44 am

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (F-C) pets a rescue dog during the visit to search and rescue crews coming from abroad with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu (2nd L) in EXPO area after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit multiple provinces of Turkiye including Hatay on February 12, 2023 [Cem Özdel – Anadolu Agency]

The Greek foreign minister said on Tuesday that Ankara and Athens could create a burst of opportunities and growth together.

“Honestly, I believe that it would be a dream to erase the Greek-Turkish difference from the map and have these two countries collaborate,” Nikos Dendias told public broadcaster ERT. “Resolving the Greek-Turkish disagreement on maritime zones in accordance with international law is my greatest dream for Greek foreign policy.”

Dendias added that the escalation between the two countries in the summer of 2020 was the toughest time for him as foreign minister. Due to the level-headedness of both sides and their realistic attitude, he noted, the worst was averted.

The minister expressed his hope that the window of opportunity to improve relations that opened after the deadly earthquakes in southern Turkiye on 6 February is maintained.

Greece was among the first countries to convey condolences and offer aid when twin earthquakes struck eleven southern Turkish provinces. Likewise, Turkiye was the first country to offer its condolences and aid following a 28 February train accident in northern Greece that left at least 57 people dead. After the accident, Turkiye allowed a Greek prisoner to go to Greece to attend his son’s funeral.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met Dendias on 20 March in Brussels and agreed that Turkiye would support Greece’s campaign for membership of the UN Security Council in 2025-2026. The government in Athens agreed that it would support Ankara’s candidacy for Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation.

Moreover, Greek Defence Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos visited Turkiye last week and met his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.

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