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Greece and Turkey Must Preserve Current Positive Climate, Athens Says

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Greek FM Nikos Dendias said that at present relations between Greece and Turkey are excellent. Credit: Greek Foreign Ministry

Greece and Turkey must preserve the positive climate in their relations following the deadly earthquakes, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias said in an interview on Thursday.

Speaking to Skai TV, Dendias said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his visit earlier in the week, was also very supportive of possibly restarting talks with Turkey.

He noted that it was Greece’s duty to help out Turkey after the devasting earthquakes, both bilaterally and as an EU member.

He added that Greek aid to Turkey through the sending of rescue teams and relief materials was purely humanistic without having any ulterior motives.

Greece responded to the earthquakes which shook parts of southern Turkey and northern Syria by quickly dispatching aid, most notably provided by EMAK, a specialist disaster relief unit that is part of the Hellenic Fire Service.

The natural disaster also prompted Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to engage in a direct conversation for the first time since March last year.

The current climate between Greece and Turkey is “excellent”

When Dendias was reminded about the tensions between the two countries before the quakes, he said: “I want to stick to the positive part: that at the moment, there is an excellent climate. Within this climate, I think unified approaches to extremely difficult issues can be built.”

Even though both countries are now preparing for general elections, which limits the chances of making long-term moves, it is still possible to restart negotiations on confidence-building measures or explanatory talks, Dendias said.

Underlining that now a positive climate is prevailing in bilateral relations thanks to contributions by both parties, he said: “For me, the main task right now is not finding solutions, it is protecting the (positive) climate.”

Dendias commented extensively on the goodwill created between Greece and Turkey and said this “very different climate, a very positive climate” between the two peoples made it a lot easier to reconnect and restart talks in terms of foreign policy.

“This climate of goodwill must be preserved,” he said, while also noting that “in a very positive manner, Turkish violations in the Aegean airspace have been drastically reduced, even completely stopped.”

Asked if the Greek-Turkish difference can be resolved, Dendias responded, “Of course it is resolvable. I believe this, believed this from the start, advocated it, and still do.” But both countries must work on the foundation of International Law and the Law of the Sea, he added.

Related: Earthquake Diplomacy Sparks Hopes of Normalization Between Greece and Turkey

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