Greece-Türkiye thaw manifests in multiple domains, frequent meetings

Fri, 7 Apr 2023 7:29 GMT
Window of opportunity opened to improve ties following tragic incidents countries recently endured.
Greece-Türkiye thaw manifests in multiple domains, frequent meetings

A recent warming in relations between neighbors Türkiye and Greece has made its mark on multiple domains, with frequent meetings of the senior Turkish and Greek decision-makers, as shown most recently in Tuesday's visit across the Aegean by Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos.

After years of escalation in tensions between the two neighbors, the diplomatic climate changed course swiftly and significantly after twin earthquakes shook southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, affecting some 13.5 million people, and killing over 50,000.

Greece was among the first countries to convey its condolences and offer aid after the quakes.

Supporting its words with action, Athens immediately mobilized the elite EMAK teams of its Civic Protection Ministry, arriving in Türkiye less than 24 hours after the quakes to join rescue efforts.

They were followed by an initial batch of humanitarian aid that included much-needed blankets and tents, accompanied by the Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides as a gesture of sympathy.

Several donation drives were also launched for quake victims by Greek public agencies, such as the Central Union of Municipalities in Greece (KEDE), the Greek Red Cross, and civic organizations, including trade unions and political parties.

This show of solidarity by the Greek state and people in times of need and its wholehearted reception on the Turkish side "opened a window of opportunity" in bilateral relations.

Ankara, in turn, sought to return this goodwill when a tragic train accident took dozens of lives near the northern Greek town of Tempi on Feb. 28, Türkiye became the first country to offer condolences and aid.

Türkiye also allowed a Greek inmate who lost his son in the accident to attend the funeral in Greece and eventually transfer to a Greek prison.

Diplomatic contacts have also flourished, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meeting with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in Brussels on March 20.

Their meeting produced a major announcement of support in international agencies, with Greece backing Türkiye's candidacy for the position of secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Ankara doing the same for Athens' bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council in 2025-2026.

Greece and Türkiye also restarted their "positive agenda" initiative, which Cavusoglu and Dendias initially agreed upon in April 2021.

In the fourth round of the talks under a positive agenda framework, Turkish and Greek delegations led on both sides by deputy foreign ministers came together in the Turkish capital Ankara on March 22.

In a joint statement, the parties said they discussed headway in the agenda's 25 topics. These include cooperation and progress in the fields of entrepreneurship, tourism, energy, transport and telecommunications, maritime affairs, information and communications technology, education, social security, health, and the environment.

"Many items have been successfully concluded. Satisfactory progress has been achieved on several other items on the list."

During the latest major visit, when Greece's defense chief Panagiotopoulos came to Ankara, he and Turkish National Defense Minister.

Now, with both countries slated to hold elections next month, more concrete steps may follow if the current climate of good relations persists.


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