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Türkiye, Greece set for new talks for improving ties

Baku. TurkicWorld:

Ankara and Athens are back to diplomatic talks to resolve their differences and improve ties, from economy to energy, as Foreign Ministry representatives are scheduled to meet in the Greek capital this week, reports TurkicWorld with the reference to Daily Sabah.

Diplomats from Türkiye will meet their Greek counterparts for a two-day meeting in Athens that will start on Monday.

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced that a Joint Action Plan Meeting and Political Consultations would be held in the Greek capital, within the scope of the “Positive Agenda” dialogue between Türkiye and Greece.

Türkiye and Greece have often locked horns over several issues, including competing claims to jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, airspace, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants. Tensions flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea – where Greece and Greek Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones – leading to a naval standoff.

Despite saying that it has no intention of entering an arms race with Ankara, Athens has also been carrying out an ambitious rearmament program, building a military presence on the disputed Aegean islands since the 1960s in violation of postwar treaties and tightening its defense cooperation with the United States. The purchase of fighter jets from the U.S. and the upping of defense budgets are meant to counter the protection of Turkish interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Greece says it needs to defend the islands against a potential attack from Türkiye, but Turkish officials said continued militarization of the islands could lead to Ankara questioning their ownership. Türkiye has often warned against such moves and called instead for dialogue to resolve their disputes.

Eventually and as part of Türkiye’s peace diplomacy based on normalizing ties with countries it had strained relations, the two countries decided to improve their ties. Fidan has hailed a new and positive era in relations as he welcomed his Greek counterpart Giorgos Gerapetritis in Ankara last month. “Ankara and Athens have differences of opinion in the Aegean and Mediterranean. The sides now must bring a new approach to solving their problems,” Fidan told reporters after talks with Gerapetritis addressing the string of decades-old disputes between their countries.

The meeting between the pair took place in a friendlier climate triggered by Greece sending assistance to Türkiye following two devastating earthquakes and Türkiye offering condolences after a deadly train crash in Greece earlier this year.

It also followed a rare meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Vilnius in July, which was hailed as a positive milestone by both countries.

Mitsotakis and Erdoğan later met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the country's deputy foreign minister, Ambassador Burak Akçapar, would lead the Turkish delegation for two-day talks, while Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantinos Fragogiannis will head the Greek delegation. The ministry said a review of the progress made since the last meeting of delegations in Ankara in March would be conducted during the talks on the Joint Action Plan for the development of bilateral relations. The plan covers every field in bilateral ties, from trade, economy and energy, to transport, education, health and environment, as well as societal relations. “New areas of cooperation that can be included in the process will also be discussed and an exchange of views on the future of the process will take place,” the ministry said in a statement.

“In addition, on October 17, 2023, within the framework of the regular political consultations between the Foreign Ministries of Türkiye and Greece, talks will be held in Athens between delegations headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Ambassador Burak Akçapar and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou. Bilateral relations, and regional and international issues will be discussed during the political consultations,” the statement also said.

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