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Politics

After Tense 2020, Mitsotakis, Erdogan Push Rapprochement Hope

BRUSSELS — A face-to-face meeting at a NATO session has led Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to say they will give peace a chance after a tense 2020 that brought worries of a conflict.

Turkey had been alternating between keeping up provocations, including plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands, with pulling back the pressure on Greece and the European Union when talk of sanctions were raised.

Erdogan has used the tactic repeatedly and again has retreated from aggression, reportedly agreeing with Mitsotakis that the tension level should be ratcheted down to give diplomacy a chance again, said Greek government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni.

“Both agreed that the direct contact was positive and despite the diametrically opposed positions of the two countries on various issues, they agreed that the tensions of 2020 should not be repeated in 2021,” Peloni told a press briefing, said the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency (ANA-MPA).

She added that the two leaders also “welcomed the activation of all existing communication channels and expressed their satisfaction over the promotion of the positive 25-point agenda, which all the deputy foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey are already working on, as well as the Greece-Turkey agreement for the mutual recognition of Covid-19 Vaccination Certificates.”

Peloni said, “Mitsotakis underlined that Greece and Turkey can work together to address the migration-refugee issue and the tackling of trafficking rings according to the EU-Turkey Statement.”

It will be seen whether that is boilerplate as Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to unleash on the EU – through Greece and its islands – more refugees and migrants who went to Turkey fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their lands, mostly Syria, Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa.

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