The deadly earthquakes in Turkey on Monday prompted the first direct contact between the leaders of Greece and Turkey in months.
On Monday Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express his distress over the devastating earthquake in Turkey.
A press release by the PM’s office in Athens, says that Mitsotakis conveyed to Erdogan the support and condolences on behalf of the government and the Greek people for the loss of human lives.
Mitsotakis reiterated Greece’s readiness to immediately assist Turkey in every way – in addition to the team that has already departed and is heading to the region- in dealing with the consequences of the devastating earthquake.
Erdogan thanked the Prime Minister for his support and the immediate assistance, the press release notes.
The last time the two leaders apparently spoke to each other was in March 2022 when Mitsotakis met with Erdogan in Istanbul. Erdogan then hosted his Greek counterpart for lunch at his presidential residence, during which the pair discussed pressing issues of foreign policy and diplomacy for nearly two hours.
The pair agreed to reduce tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The goal of both leaders is to provide stability in the region at this time.
Relations between the two leaders broke down following the visit of Mitsotakis to Washington. Erdogan stated that Mitsotakis “no longer exists” to him after he criticized Turkey, although not explicitly.
The Greek leader appealed to lawmakers to bar Turkey, without naming the country, from purchasing fighter jets during his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, the first ever by a Greek leader.
Greece sends help to Turkey
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted that “Greece is mobilizing its resources and will assist immediately.”
Deeply saddened by the devastating earthquake disaster in Türkiye and Syria. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the victims and our thoughts are with all the people affected. Greece is mobilizing its resources and will assist immediately.
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) February 6, 2023
A team of 21 firefighters with two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle is already in Turkey assisting in rescue operations.
Greece Turkey earthquake diplomacy
Greece has offered to help Turkey following devastating earthquakes in the past.
The so-called Greek–Turkish earthquake diplomacy was initiated after successive earthquakes hit both countries in the summer of 1999 and led to an improvement in Greek–Turkish relations.