Greek and Turkish ministers make friends in Athens
Relations between Greece and Turkey improved at a high-level meeting in Athens on Monday (June 1), but the EU remains suspicious of Ankara.
Greece hoped for a “gradual normalization” of relations, although it and Turkey sometimes had “different positions and, on certain serious issues, diametrically opposed,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said after meeting with his Turkish counterpart in the Greek capital.
Turkey also wanted to “strengthen cooperation”, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
The problems must be resolved “on the basis of international law and common interests,” he added.
They have also launched more than 20 joint economic projects.
These ranged from education and health to the energy, environment, tourism, transport, telecommunications and shipping sectors.
The last time Dendias and Çavuşoğlu met, in Ankara in April, they publicly exchanged insults over airspace violations and false information.
The two NATO allies narrowly avoided a military confrontation over disputed maritime borders and oil and gas reserves in the Mediterranean over the past year.
And the EU recently threatened to blacklist Turkish officials or even hit Turkey’s tourism industry if things got worse.
At the same time, Çavuşoğlu’s outreach comes amid a pro-EU turn by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who also hosted senior EU officials Charles Michel and Ursula von Der Leyen in Ankara last month. and who began to praise Europe in speeches to ambassadors in Ankara. hi palace.
But for his part, Michel, the President of the Council of the EU, said he remained “cautious” of Ankara’s intentions.
“In the past, we have observed that Turkey could take one step forward followed by two steps back. So we are not naive,” Michel said in the Greek newspaper ekathimerini also on Monday.
“We are ready to use all the tools at our disposal to influence Turkey’s behavior,” he added.
EU leaders recently vowed to resume talks on customs benefits and visa-free travel with Turkey, but these would only continue if Turkey improves its habits, Michel said.
“We have sent a very clear message: we are ready for a more positive agenda, but this one is conditional, proportional and reversible,” he said.
“This means that it will only be implemented if there is progress in different areas – in particular in Greek-Turkish relations, on the Cypriot settlement, on human rights. It will depend on the behavior of Turkey, ”Michel said.
Cyprus is trying to resume reunification talks after more than 40 years of frozen conflict with Turkey.
Erdoğan launched a crackdown on his political opponents, crushing the rights of the Turkish people, after a failed coup in 2016.