PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a friendship declaration between Greece and Turkey in Athens on Thursday in a symbolic move that confirms the warming of relations between the two nations.
The declaration commits both countries “to refrain from any statement, initiative, or act likely to undermine or discredit the letter and spirit of this Declaration or endanger the maintenance of peace and stability in their region.”
In addition, it calls on both countries “to resolve any dispute amicably arising between them through direct consultations between them or through other means as provided for in the United Nations Charter.”
The declaration does not constitute an international agreement binding upon the parties under international law. The full text of the declaration can be found here.
Turkey and Greece should work together for a better future, the Greek Prime Minister said during a joint press conference with Erdogan. “We must live in peace, seek solutions to our differences,” he stated.
Noting that relations between the two countries have experienced ups and downs in the course of history, including in the near past, Mitsotakis drew attention to the positive impetus since the spring, recalling that it was his third meeting with Erdogan in the last six months.
He praised cooperation between the two countries in dealing with irregular migration and said that he plans to visit Ankara in spring of next year. He also revealed a scheme that would allow Turkish citizens to easily get visas to visit Greek islands in the Eastern Aegean.
On his part, Erdogan said there is no issue between the two countries that cannot be resolved. “It is our hope to resolve our issues via constructive dialogue, and good neighborly relations within the framework of international law,” he said.
“We want to turn the Aegean into a sea of peace and cooperation,” the Turkish President said. “We aspire to set an example to the world with the joint steps we will take as Türkiye and Greece.”
In relation to the meeting, Erdogan said both sides exchanged views on their positions regarding the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. “We have asked our foreign ministers to discuss the related matters,” he added.
Earlier, Erdogan met President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the Presidential Mansion in Athens. They both expressed their common will to improve Greek-Turkish relations.
“It is more essential than ever for Greece and Turkiye to work together to strengthen cooperation, promote International Law and the well-being of the wider region,” Sakellaropoulou underlined. She also expressed hope that the talks between the two sides will be productive.
On his part, Erdogan said that his visit was an opportunity for relations between the two countries to take a new course, and he spoke of constructive meetings, emphasizing that it will be “better for the future of both parties to hold talks seeing the glass half full.”
Greece-Turkey tensions subside
Erdogan’s visit to Athens, the first in six years, comes in light of both sides’ willingness to hit the reset button on bilateral ties while acknowledging the long-standing differences.
“We will go to Athens with a win-win approach,” Erdogan told journalists ahead of his visit. “There, we will discuss both our bilateral relations and Türkiye-EU relations in order to make decisions worthy of the spirit of the new era.”
The visit takes place at a time when Turkey’s aggressive rhetoric has subsided. There have been almost zero overflights in the Aegean following last February’s devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Greece’s offer of assistance.
Dimitris Kairidis, the Greek minister for migration, said late Tuesday that the number of migrants arriving on Greece’s islands illegally had dropped by about sixty percent over the past two months thanks in large part to better coordination with Turkey’s coast guard.
“There was a time when the Turkish authorities did not react and let the boats through,” Kairidis told state television. “Now the cooperation is much better.”
Parallel to the Mitsotakis-Erdogan meeting, ministers and diplomats from the two countries will participate in the fifth Greece-Turkey High-Level Cooperation Council, where agreements and memoranda are expected to be signed in the fields of economic and commercial cooperation, health, education, tourism, sports, and research/technology as well as rural development.