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Turkey and Greece discuss Ukraine war and agree to increase cooperation

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Turkey and Greece discuss Ukraine war and agree to increase cooperation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis have agreed to mend strained relations between their countries during a two-hour meeting in Istanbul on Sunday (13/03).

“The meeting focused on the benefits of increasing cooperation between the two countries” in view of “the evolution of the European security architecture”, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

“We face so many challenges today … that the most important thing is to concentrate on what unites us rather than what separates us,” the Greek prime minister told reporters after the meeting. “We emphasize the need to create a positive agenda,” added Mitsotakis.

What has strained relations between Greece and Turkey?

Ankara and Athens have been at loggerheads for years over maritime and energy issues, the divided island of Cyprus, the status of the Aegean island, and various migration issues.

The two NATO nations came close to confrontation in 2020 when Turkey sent a drilling vessel into contested Mediterranean waters. The situation eased after Ankara towed the ship.

Officials from the two countries resumed exploration talks in 2021 as a basis for formal negotiations to begin, but have not made much progress so far.

What action will be taken next?

“We have big differences that cannot be taken lightly,” Mitsotakis told Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew after meeting Erdogan.

However, he added, “I believe we are setting the groundwork for improving our relationship.

The Turkish presidency said the two leaders agreed to keep communications open “despite differences of opinion.” Erdoan told Mitsotakis that as a neighboring country should communicate frequently, not only in times of crisis.

Greece said that both sides emphasized building a positive agenda especially in the economic field.

The two countries cooperate on energy projects, such as the construction of a pipeline that crosses their countries to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to Western Europe.

The project is part of Europe’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian energy exports.

bh/ha (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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