The behavior of Turkey toward Greece has changed radically since the deadly earthquakes and Athens has an obligation to respond in a positive way, Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias said.
Speaking to Proto Thema, Dendias noted that since his visit to south-eastern Turkey immediately after the earthquakes, “there are no violations in the Aegean, no overflights, no toxic language, no verbal aggression, no threat of violence.
“Greece has always said that it seeks dialogue under exactly these conditions. So we must, we have an obligation to, respond to such Turkish behavior,” the head of Greek diplomacy told Proto Thema.
He admitted that he does not know whether this notable de-escalation on behalf of Turkey will continue, but added: “Imagine how bad it would be if Turkey extends a hand of understanding to Greece, and Greece refuses it.”
Dendias noted Turkey’s support for the Greek candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the Security Council which he said “has enormous symbolism.”
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu signaled that Turkey will support Greece’s bid. At a meeting with Dendias, Cavusoglu confirmed that in return Greece will support Turkey’s bid to assume the presidency of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Dendias downplayed the significance of the Greek reciprocal move, saying that Athens also participates in the Board of Directors of IMO.
“I am not saying that we took more than we gave away,” Dendias stressed. But, it is symbolically important that Turkey chose to support Greece for a UN Security Council seat, he added.
Dendias also noted the Joint Declaration of Greece – Turkey after the 4th Positive Agenda Meeting, which took place in Ankara on March 22 and focused on economic and trade issues.
“This reflects a new reality. There is a window of opportunity here,” the Greek FM told Proto Thema.
“Greece has an absolute obligation to pass through the door that Turkey opened. Now whether this will have a happy ending or is just a passing phenomenon, only time can tell. However, it would be unforgivable for the Greek side not to attempt to take advantage of this change.”
Turkey congratulates Greece on the anniversary of Independence Day
On Saturday, March 25, Cavusoglu extended a letter of congratulation to his Greek counterpart on the anniversary of Greek Independence Day.
The letter of congratulation emphasized “good neighborly ties” between Greece and Turkey in what may turn out to be a period of rapprochement between Athens and Ankara. The Turkish foreign minister thanked Dendias for Greek support during the devastating earthquakes which leveled entire cities in parts of the country last month.
Many officials in both countries are hoping that the revival of so-called “earthquake diplomacy” will lead to a sustained improvement in bilateral relations between the two countries, which have experienced a period of prolonged tension in recent years.
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.
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