Turkey, Greece take strides in Ankara meeting as aid diplomacy continues


ANKARA – Aegean frenemies Turkey and Greece appear determined to build on the momentum of post-disaster diplomacy as the Greek and Turkish deputy foreign ministers met in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss ways to improve cooperation in bilateral ties.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Burak Akcapar and his Greek counterpart Konstantinos Fragkogiannis discussed ways to improve ties on 25 files including energy, trade and societal relations, and further cooperation. The discussion was in Ankara, at the fourth meeting of the “Positive Agenda” initiative.

The parties also agreed on “a framework to conclude agreements that could be signed at the next high-level meeting,” the ministry said.

The meeting came on the heels of an announcement earlier this week that Athens and Ankara would support each other’s bids on various international platforms.

Speaking after his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the 2023 International Conference of Donors held in Brussels this week to support post-earthquake efforts in Turkey and Syria, the Greek Foreign Minister said Nikos Dendias that Athens would support Ankara’s bid for the general secretariat. of the International Maritime Organization and that Ankara would support Greece’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2025-2026.

The two countries established the “Positive Agenda” initiative in April 2021, but were unable to achieve any concrete progress due to a series of issues related to territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean and several disagreements another.

However, post-disaster diplomacy following the twin earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6 and killed more than 55,000 people has brought unexpected relief from joint conflict.

Greece’s prompt action to aid relief efforts in Turkey prompted a flurry of diplomatic openings between Athens and Ankara. The leaders of the two countries and senior government officials held talks, exchanging pleasantries after a long break.

After the February 28 train accident in northern Greece, Ankara extradited a Greek criminal to his country. Dimitris Nalbantis, the father of the conductor of the passenger train that collided with a freight train, was released from a Turkish prison and returned to Greece at the request of Athens.

Ankara’s exploration activities in the conflict waters of the eastern Mediterranean, Athens’ arming of Aegean islands that have a non-military status under international treaties and a maritime demarcation agreement signed by Turkey with the Tripoli government of Libya in 2019 have unleashed a series of crises in ties over the European Union. In recent years, concerns have risen about a further escalation between the two NATO allies as the two countries head towards elections.

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