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Politics

Earthquake and Train Tragedy Lead to Greece and Turkey’s Renewed Interest in Dialogue

ATHENS – Greece’s aid to Turkey after a deadly earthquake, and Turkish sympathies for the victims of a head-on train collision in Greece, have brought a rapprochement and eased tensions between the two countries.

According to Middle East Monitor, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar agreed with Greece’s Defense Minister, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, to develop an agenda based on “good neighborly relations between the two countries.”

The agreement came during a call between them, during which Panagiotopoulos expressed his government’s condolences to Turkey following February’s devastating earthquakes and Akar did the same for the 57 victims of the Greek crash between a passenger and cargo train on the same line.

The officials also reportedly discussed developing an agenda based on “good neighborly relations between Turkey and Greece,” with the twin tragedies prompting Turkey to back off from provocations that had previously brought the countries to near-conflict.

It’s uncertain how long this will last, with both Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan facing upcoming election challenges and trying to cater to voter sentiment.

There was no indication whether talks around confidence building measures (CBMs) would resume, as such talks have repeatedly resulted in no progress from either side after dozens of attempts.

Prior to the earthquake and train crash, Erdogan had threatened Greece with invasion if Greek troops were not removed from Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast.

He also stated that Greece doubling its maritime boundaries in those seas to 12 miles would be a cause for war. This would further isolate Turkish interests in the area as Turkey promotes its “TurkAegean” tourism program.

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