Turning a Page, Greece and Turkey Agree to Mend Ties

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece and Turkey on Thursday agreed to reboot their relations, establishing a roadmap designed to usher in a new era of closer ties between the two NATO allies but historical foes.

In a landmark visit of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to Greece, the longtime sparring partners agreed to focus on pursuing good neighborly relations, keep open channels of communication, seek military confidence-building measures to eliminate sources of tension, boost trade volumes and work on issues which have kept them apart, notably in the Aegean Sea.

“There is no issue between us that is unsolvable. So long as we focus on the big picture and don’t end up being like those who cross the sea and drown in the river,” Erdogan said after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens.

“We want to turn the Aegean into a sea of peace. Through the joint steps we will take as Turkey and Greece, we want to be an example to the world,” he added.

After customary verbal jousting over recent years, chilly relations between the two neighbors thawed markedly after Greece swiftly dispatched aid in the wake of a devastating earthquake in Turkey in February.

By Greco-Turkish standards, Thursday’s summit was a remarkable sign of friendship without precedence, and a far cry from Erdogan’s last visit in 2017 where both sides reeled off a litany of historical grievances stretching back to the crumbling days of the Ottoman Empire over a century ago.

The meeting of Mitsotakis and Erdogan went on longer than anticipated, and Mitsotakis addressed Erdogan as “Dear Tayyip”. Erdogan said he expected to receive Mitsotakis in Ankara.

The NATO allies want to raise bilateral trade volume to $10 billion from $5 billion, while Erdogan said both countries could benefit from high-level meetings held annually.

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