Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is optimistic that a “great opportunity” now exists for the improvement of bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey.
Athens and Ankara have often been at odds over a range of geostrategic issues, with relations being especially thorny in recent years. Deep disagreements persist over territorial boundaries in the Aegean Sea and over the status of Cyprus, for example.
However, a sense of cautious optimism has developed in diplomatic circles since February this year when Greece dispatched assistance to Turkey in the wake of devastating earthquakes.
Turkish foreign minister optimistic about Greece and Turkey’s bilateral relations
“We aim to maintain positive relations with all countries in our region. Regarding the issues where we differ with our neighbor, Greece, we believe this positive climate presents a significant opportunity for resolution,” said Fidan.
“We approach this matter with sincerity and hope for reciprocation from the Greek side,” the Turkish foreign minister added.
Fidan was appointed the role of foreign minister relatively recently in June earlier this year. Prior to taking on this position, he became Turkey’s youngest-ever intelligence chief when he took the helm of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) in 2010.
The new minister is no stranger to the diplomatic world; during his tenure as spy chief, Fidan engaged in largely private back-channel diplomatic discussions with Turkey’s friends and foes. For some time, MIT existed as the sole back-channel for Turkey to engage with Israel and other nations with which relations had significantly deteriorated.
A friendlier diplomatic landscape?
Both Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emerged recently from their respective national elections with their political positions intact. Direct discussions between the pair are said to have entirely broken down last year and were only resumed when parts of Turkey were leveled by earthquakes this February.
In July, Mitsotakis and Erdoğan had the opportunity to meet on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Lithuania. It was agreed that the positive climate in bilateral relations in recent months should have both “continuity and consistency,” as this would be in the interests of the two countries.
Mitsotakis later described the meeting as “an opportunity for a restart in relations with Turkey following four difficult years.”
“It confirmed my view that Turkey appears to be ready for a change in direction in its foreign policy,” he said during an interview on Skai TV.