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Turkey and Greece agree to improve relations amid Ukraine conflict

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis agreed during talks on Sunday to improve relations despite years of differences between the two NATO allies, Ankara said.
The Turkish presidency said in a statement that the two countries have an important role in light of the changing security situation in Europe after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that their further cooperation will benefit the region.

Turkey shares maritime borders with both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea, has good relations with both countries and has offered to mediate in the conflict.

After a five-year hiatus, Greece and Turkey agreed last year to resume exploratory talks to address their Mediterranean differences, but little progress has been made so far.

“Despite the differences between Turkey and Greece, the two sides agreed at the meeting to keep communication channels open and enhance bilateral relations,” the statement said.

“Noting that Turkey and Greece bear a special responsibility in the changing European security architecture with Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the meeting focused on the benefits of increased cooperation between the two countries for them and the region,” he added. Russia describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation”.

Ankara and Athens have been at loggerheads for years over issues including conflicting sovereignty claims in the Mediterranean, airspace and immigration.

The two countries came close to confrontation in 2020 when Turkey sent a drilling ship into disputed Mediterranean waters. The crisis eased after Ankara withdrew the ship and the two neighbors resumed bilateral talks in January 2021.

The two sides made little progress during the 60 rounds of talks between 2002 and 2016.

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