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Politics

Erdogan Holds Out Olive Branch Ahead of Mitsotakis Meet in Athens

November 29, 2023

ANKARA – With a looming meeting Dec. 7 in Athens with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hopes it will “usher in a new chapter in the relations between the two countries.”

That was in a session with his ruling party’s parliamentary group, telling the members that  “We do not view diplomacy as a zero-sum game. For us, diplomacy is a significant opportunity for both sides to meet on a rational basis.”

He added: “It is an opportunity for both sides to gain on the principle of win-win. It is natural for there to be differences and disagreements between countries. The important thing is to have the willingness to resolve differences before they become knots. We possess this willingness.”

With a detente ongoing, Erdogan has pulled back his volatility and not again mentioned previous demands that Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast and vows to have energy research vessels off Greek islands.

He had also said that it would be a cause for war if Greece doubled its maritime boundaries to 12 miles in the Aegean, which would further landlock his country’s coast but he has ratcheted down the rhetoric since.

While there’s a broad agenda for the meeting – moved from Thessaloniki, where the founder of the modern Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was born – some bones of contention remain.
That includes Erdogan’s disagreement with Greece supporting Israel in its war against Hamas and the invasion of the Gaza Strip Palestinian enclave after the terrorists killed some 1,400 people in raids in Israel, burning children alive.

Erdogan said Hamas is a freedom fighter group while it’s the Israelis who are terrorists for retaliating against the atrocities, Mitsotakis earlier having gone to Israel to offer support.

Erdogan told his lawmakers – after insisting Turkey wouldn’t back down on issues he considered to be sovereign – that, “This reality does not mean that as two neighboring countries, we cannot find common ground, sharing the same sea, the same climate, the same geography.”

“With mutual trust, there are many chapters where we can enhance our collaborations. In our visit, we aim to focus our attention on these. I hope our visit to Greece will lead to the opening of a new chapter in the relations between our countries,” he concluded.

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