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Greece’s Ambassador Wants Closer Collaboration With Turkey, Peace

March 27, 2024

ANKARA – A current detente with Turkey could bring benefits financially and with security if it continues and both sides keep further moving away from butting heads, Greece’s Ambassador to Turkey Theodoros Bizakis said.

Speaking at a reception of the country’s Independence Day in the capital Ankara, Bizakis said: “Our bilateral relations have seen fluctuations, which at times have threatened them in a dangerous way and with them also the security and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. This is why it is extremely important that the two countries have decided to pursue a new course,” reported Turkey’s Daily Sabah.

https://www.dailysabah.com/politics/diplomacy/only-together-can-turkiye-greece-support-peace-prosperity-envoy

Bizakis reiterated that the Athens Declaration on Friendly Relations and Good Neighbourliness was signed 100 years after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in December – without mentioning Turkey no longer recognizes it.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who covets return of some Aegean islands close to Turkey’s coast, nevertheless cited the treaty in demanding Greece remove troops off of them.

In December, with a large delegation, Erdoğan was in Athens for the first time since 2017 after a long period of tension marked by spats over migration, energy exploration in the Aegean and territorial sovereignty, the newspaper noted.

But now Turkey wants to reboot its hopes of joining the European Union that it’s been trying fruitlessly since 2005, prospects worsening under his hardline government before he moved to trying diplomacy with Greece.

During the visit, the sides announced a friendship declaration, visa facilitation for Turkish citizens for 10 Greek islands in the northern Aegean for up to seven days and the decreased flow of irregular migrants to Greece.

The meeting between the pair took place in a friendly climate triggered by Greece sending assistance to Türkiye following two devastating earthquakes and Türkiye offering condolences after a deadly train crash in Greece earlier this year.

“A series of high-level bilateral visits are currently underway and there is a concrete road map,” Bizakis said, referring to planned visit by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Ankara in May.

He said that Greece “firmly supports Türkiye’s EU accession process,” including the facilitation of the granting of visas, “so that Turkey’s young generation, scientists, businessmen, students can develop closer relations with Europe.”

“Tangible proof of this is that following consultations and approval by the European Commission, Greece will activate a fast-track process for Turkish citizens and their families to visit 10 of our islands that have a direct ferry connection with Turkey, for seven days,” he said. “Greek islands are a bridge of communication and friendship between the two peoples,” he added.

He said there have already been economic gains during the rapprochement and that the two sides want to double trade, now at 5 billion euros ($5.41 billion) to 10 billion euros ($10.82 billion) within five years.

Turkey’s Deputy Trade Minister Mustafa Tuzcu, said: “In 2023, our bilateral trade volume increased almost $5.8 billion and it is very promising that we have reached our highest trade volume figures. More importantly, we are pleased to see that this trend continues in 2024 as well.”

Tuzcu also emphasized that Ankara supports Greece’s non-permanent membership to the United Nations Security Council for the period 2025-2026 as the two sides try to improve relations instead of feuding.

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