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ΤΟ ΠΕΡΙΟΔΙΚΟΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕTurkish President Erdogan: Let us develop the positive climate between our countries...

Turkish President Erdogan: Let us develop the positive climate between our countries further

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Türkiye’s will to further develop the positive impetus between Greek-Turkish relations was expressed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in statements following his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens on Thursday.

Erdogan underlined that this intention was proven by the convening of the 5th High Level Cooperation Council between the two countries after seven years. Further reflecting the good climate of contacts, the Turkish leader mentioned that the Declaration of Athens on Friendly Relations and Good Neighbourliness confirmed the willingness to develop bilateral relations. Specifically, he also proposed that Greece and Türkiye hold the High Level Cooperation Council at least once a year, adding that this is something that would benefit both countries.

“We are two countries that share the same sea, the same geography, the same climate, and especially the same culture in several sectors,” Erdogan said, adding that it is natural for problems to occur between two countries, let alone siblings. The issue, he underlined, is the willingness to resolve problems and differing opinions. Under this angle, he noted, “we want to turn the Aegean Sea into a sea of peace and collaboration.” As Erdogan additionally noted, “We wish to become an example to the world by the joint steps we will take as Türkiye and Greece. I say this openly, there is no problem between us so great that it cannot be resolved, as long as we act in good faith and focus on the large picture, and not become like those who traverse the sea but drown in the river.” Additionally, the Turkish leader expressed satisfaction that, as he said, “Mr. Mitsotakis has the same view.”

At the start of his statements, the Turkish president said he was very satisfied to be in Athens again for the meeting of the 5th High Level Cooperation Council.

Referring to his meetings with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Erdogan said they were beneficial. In terms of his meeting with Mitsotakis, he mentioned that they discussed steps that could be taken towards growing bilateral cooperation. In the context of continuing the high-level contacts, the Turkish president said that they underlined keeping the channels of communications open, while they also underlined that the mechanism of the Supreme Military Council of Greek-Turkish Cooperation contributes positively to promoting relations in the context of the Positive Agenda.

In addition, in the talks he had with Mitsotakis, Erdogan said they exchanged views on the Aegean and the East Mediterranean, and added that they had requested of Foreign Ministers of their countries “to discuss them in a decisive manner.” In this context, he said that their sincere wish is that they resolve standing issues through joint efforts, in the context of constructive dialog of good neighborliness and international law.

The Turkish president paid special emphasis in economic relations, revealing that “we have agreed to raise bilateral trade to 10 billion dollars, from 5 billion dollars today.” He also related that during his meeting with Mitsotakis they stressed the importance of transportation projects, such as the construction of a second bridge at the Ipsala-Kipoi border station, while adding that Türkiye’s will is to develop relations with Greece in tourism and cultural sectors as well.

Erdogan mentioned that they discussed developing their collaboration in fighting terrorism. “I expressed once again our expectation in fighting terrorism and welcomed the shutting down of the Lavrio camp. I underlined that caution is needed so that similar camps that provide refuge to terrorists in Greece are not set up,” he said.

The Turkish president then referred to minorities, calling the Greek Muslim minority in Greece “Turkish”. He said that the increase and peacefulness of minorities will influence Greek-Turkish relations positively, while Greece expects “the improvement required by international law in terms of the situation of the Turkish [i.e. Muslim] minority of Western Thrace.” Mitsotakis responded at the end of Erdogan’s speech, clarifying that the definition of the identity of the minority as Muslim is set out by the Lausanne Treaty: “Our duty in this climate of peaceful coexistence, a duty of the Greek state of law, is to safeguard and strengthen it. And I want to assure you, and of course assure all of our fellow-Greeks who are Muslims, that the Greek government will continue to work in this direction day and night,” Mitsotakis added.

In terms of the Cyprus issue, the Turkish president referred to the need for a just, permanent, and sustainable solution based on the realities on the island that will benefit the entire region.

The Greek and Turkish leaders also discussed regional and international relations. In terms of Gaza, in particular,

Erdogan said that Türkiye does not approve under any circumstances of targeting civilians, and said, addressing the international community, that it must not keep silent against “crimes against humanity and war crimes carried out.” He added that “the founding of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state with territorial integrity on the 1967 borders is now unavoidable,” and stressed that Türkiye is prepared to assume responsibility as guarantor power toward the implementation of a just peace.

In conclusion, President Erdogan extended an invitation to PM Mitsotakis to Ankara for the next high level council meeting.

 

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