Photo : Collected
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Greece on Thursday on a trip designed to mend strained relations between the two nations and with hopes of resetting ties with Western allies.
Despite deep-rooted differences between the two neighboring NATO members, Erdogan promised to a “win-win” approach that could lay the foundation for broader cooperation.
Security was tight in the Greek capital, with major roads shut to traffic in central Athens as the Turkish president headed to meetings with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Erdogan was accompanied on his trip by several ministers, with joint Cabinet talks with Greek ministers and the signing of several cooperation agreements on the agenda.
The significance of improved relations extends beyond bilateral ties and could help Turkey mend rocky relationships with the European Union and other Western allies. One crucial agreement in Athens focuses on migration, establishing communication channels between the coast guards of the two countries.
Greece is expected to offer holiday visas for Turks visiting Greek islands and is backing Ankara’s request to ease travel restrictions for Turkish nationals in the European Union. Agreements are also expected on the issues of trade and transportation and on addressing disputes through bilateral contacts.
The longstanding disputes between Greece and Turkey have led the two countries to the brink of war three times in the last 50 years. Centering on maritime boundaries and exploration rights for resources in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean, the latest flare-up occurred in 2020, when navy ships from the two countries shadowed each other in the eastern Mediterranean.
As relations deteriorated, Erdogan said as recently as last year that he no longer had any interest in meeting with Mitsotakis. But Thursday's visit will be the third time this year that Erdogan and Mitsotakis have met, signaling a significant push to improve ties.