Leaders of Turkey and Greece vow to repair ties after year of tension


Athens (Reuters) – Greece and Turkey agreed on Wednesday to resume talks and confidence-building measures as they hailed a new “positive climate” in ties after more than a year of tensions between the historic foes.

The two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have been at odds for decades over a range of issues including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, overflights of the Aegean Sea, and ethnically split Cyprus.

Last year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan halted bilateral talks in a dispute over airspace violations and after accusing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of pressuring the United States to block the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

Relations improved when Greece became one of the first countries to send rescue workers to help pull survivors from the rubble after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey in February.

Erdogan and Mitsotakis, both recently re-elected, met on the sidelines of a NATO Summit in Vilnius on Wednesday in their first meeting since March last year.

“It is to the benefit of both countries that the positive climate formed in bilateral relations over recent months has continuity and consistency,” the two leaders’ offices said in identical but separate statements.

“The two sides agreed to build on the positive momentum and activate multiple channels of communication between the two countries in the coming period,” they said, adding that the two leaders look forward to “more frequent contact at all levels.”

They also agreed that the next meeting of a High-Level Cooperation Council, a mechanism the two countries set up in 2010 for their rapprochement, will be held in the northern Greek city of Thessalonki in the autumn.

“We are cautiously optimistic we can turn a new page,” Mitsotakis told reporters after the summit.

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