Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos to visit Türkiye as tension wanes

Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Greece’s defense minister

© APA | Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Greece’s defense minister

# 30 March 2023 22:28 (UTC +04:00)

Greece’s defense minister announced Thursday that he will travel to neighboring Türkiye next week as part of an effort to ease tension between the two NATO members, which have long-standing and often volatile disputes, APA reports citing Al Arabiya.

Nikos Panagiotopoulos told reporters in Athens that he would visit areas devastated by earthquakes in early February with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

An outpouring of support from Greece to help its neighbor last month has led to a de-escalation in disputes centered around boundaries and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.

“My counterpart suggested that I visit the earthquake-affected areas ... The aim is to send a symbolic message,” Panagiotopoulos said in an interview with Greek private television station Mega.

“A de-escalation of tension in the bilateral relations between Greece and Türkiye is now evident. It is our country’s wish for this de-escalation to acquire permanent characteristics.”

In the wake of the earthquakes, Greece and Türkiye have resumed high-level meetings, including talks attended by senior diplomats on the so-called positive agenda initiative, aimed at boosting trade and other cooperation in areas unrelated to the disputes.

The devastating February 6 quake in southern Türkiye killed around 50,000 people in the country and neighboring Syria.

Panagiotopoulos will visit Türkiye on Tuesday and travel to the southern Hatay province, one of the hardest areas hit by the earthquakes, Turkish officials said.

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