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Greece and Turkey Vow to Build on Positive Momentum

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Greek PM Mitsotakis welcomed Turkish President Erdogan in Athens last December. Credit: Press Office of the Greek PM

Greece and Turkey reiterated their joint commitment to build on the existing positive momentum during a meeting of foreign ministry officials on Monday in Ankara.

The meeting between Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandra Papadopoulou and her Turkish counterpart Burak Akcapar was part of the political dialogue between the two countries’ foreign ministries.

“The two sides reiterated their joint commitment to build on the existing positive atmosphere in line with the Athens Declaration signed last December by the leaders of the two countries, exploring further areas of bilateral and international cooperation,” a joint statement issued after the meeting reads.

The two sides also reviewed the preparations for the upcoming visit of the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Turkey in May “and took stock of progress achieved so far in the existing dialogue channels, covering all aspects of the bilateral relationship.”

After a long period of tensions marked by disputes over irregular migration, the Cyprus dispute, energy exploration, and territorial sovereignty in the Aegean, Turkey and Greece have been taking confidence-building steps for a fragile normalization of their relations. This moved into a new chapter with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s landmark visit to Athens in December.

Greece -Turkey relations and Erdogan’s Athens visit

During the visit, the sides announced a friendship declaration, visa facilitation for Turkish citizens for ten Greek islands in the Northern Aegean for up to seven days, and the decreased flow of irregular migrants to Greece.

Mitsotakis and Erdogan signed a joint declaration pledging to maintain good and friendly neighborly relations.

The declaration commits both countries “to [refraining] 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.

Greece and Turkey had also agreed to begin construction of a new bridge linking the two countries in the Evros region. The bridge will improve road safety conditions and ensure the smoother movement of passengers and goods between the two countries.

The construction of the bridge, dubbed “Friendship Bridge,” is expected to start in 2024. It will be the second bridge serving as a link between Greece and Turkey.

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