ürkiye has entered a new and positive era in its relations with Greece, Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan said Tuesday at a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Giorgos Gerapetritis in Ankara, APA reports citing Daily Sabah.
“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.
Discussions 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.
“We have agreed to maintain dialogue with Greece without preconditions,” Fidan said, stressing that Türkiye is prepared to develop ties “on the basis of common interests in all areas.”
According to Gerapetritis, the neighbors are expected to hold a high-level cooperation council meeting in Thessaloniki before the end of the year, which would be the first such meeting in seven years.
“Starting talks at once is the most critical step and confidence-building measures and talks between Türkiye and Greece will start soon,” Gerapetritis noted.
He and Fidan discussed longstanding disputes like the Cyprus issue, Türkiye's stalled EU membership process and irregular migration, as well as a “positive agenda” framework for boosting economic and commercial cooperation and expansion in other fields such as transportation, maritime, business cooperation, technology, environmental protection, and tackling natural disasters.
As for illegal migration, a headache for both countries as they form a gateway to Europe for thousands of asylum-seekers from the greater Middle East and Asia, Fidan reiterated the need for “not competition but cooperation in tackling the issue.”
Greece is often condemned, frequently by Ankara, for its notorious policy of pushing back asylum-seekers, something Athens denies des claims to the contrary from alleged victims, rights groups, Turkish drones and even the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.
Fidan on Tuesday said he and Gerapetritis further addressed the situation of Turks in Greece, a minority numbering 150,000 and living in the Western Thrace region.
“Türkiye has implemented dozens of positive practices for minorities living here. We expect the same approach for our fellow Turks abroad,” Fidan noted.
“The preservation of our cultural heritage in Greece is crucial for us and we are prepared to support the restoration of Ottoman works in Greece,” he added, noting that he conveyed to Gerapetritis Ankara’s willingness to cooperate on the matter.
Fidan also said he reiterated Ankara’s expectations from the European Union.
For his part, Gerapetritis said, “Greece has supported Ankara's EU tendency for long years.”