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'This is a truly special day', PM Mitsotakis says, during joint statements with President Erdogan

Featured 'This is a truly special day', PM Mitsotakis says, during joint statements with President Erdogan

In joint statements with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after their meeting in Athens on Thursday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a press conference that this was "a truly special day, as the High-Level Cooperation Council of Greece and Turkiye is convening once more after seven years."

"A fact that in itself, I think, signals the intention of our two countries to seek new, creative paths in the relations between them," he added.

In the time that had intervened, Mitsotakis said, "we faced unp

ecedented challenges that know no borders," highlighting that these included the three-year pandemic, a war in the heart of Europe that caused an energy, inflation and food crisis, as well as major natural disasters and regional conflicts that raised grave concerns.
"Our bilateral relations also have seen ups and downs, which at times posed a dangerous threat to them, and alongside them to security and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean," Mitsotakis said, stressing the great importance of the fact that the two countries have been "treading a more tranquil path" in recent months.

"Greece and Turkiye, Turkiye and Greece have an obligation to live peacefully. To state their differences, which are known, to discuss them with sincerity and to constantly seek solutions. And, even if they cannot be bridged, to not automatically generate tension and crises," he stressed.

Mitsotakis noted that in their meeting in Vilnius, they had decided with Erdogan to begin contacts once again on three levels, that of political dialogue, a positive agenda and confidence building measures. Reviewing the previous two meetings, he said that an assessment was now underway of the joint efforts and the progress that had led to a series of important agreements on many levels, in electricity, trade, education, sports, technology, tourism, closer economic ties and promoting a shared understanding and an exchange of best practices in agriculture, research and innovation.

"Regarding migration, we noted a significant reduction in flows over the recent period as a result of the systematic protection of our land and sea borders. I would add, however, that it is also due to the improved cooperation of the police, coast guard and harbour police of the two countries," Mitsotakis said, while noting that this cooperation can and should be further improved.

"Regarding Greece's steadfast support for Turkiye's EU accession course, our country supports the facilitation of granting visas, though always within the framework of the European acquis, so that the younger generation in Turkiye, the scientists, business people and students can build closer ties with Europe. In addition, Greece has asked for and secured the European Commission's approval to activate the possibility for Turkish citizens and their families to visit 10 of our islands for seven days throughout the year, which either have refugee facilities or have direct ferry links with Turkiye," the prime minister said. He noted that this was an initiative that sends a strong message and states a great truth, namely "that the Greek islands are a bridge of communication and friendship between the two countries."