Ankara, Athens to resume confidence-building talks

Ankara, Athens to resume confidence-building talks

Ankara, Athens to resume confidence-building talks

Defense Minister Yaşar Güler and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, have agreed in a phone call on July 5 to resume confidence-building meetings halted last year, the Turkish Defense Ministry has announced.

The ministers also expressed their intention to meet during the upcoming NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to discuss the matter, according to the ministry's statement.

During the call, Güler and Dendias congratulated each other on their new positions and extended their wishes for success, emphasizing the significance of maintaining a positive agenda in bilateral relations and keeping communication channels open.

The confidence-building negotiations were suspended in May 2022 during a period of escalated tensions between the two NATO member states, driven by conflicting territorial claims.

However, the phone call followed a series of steps taken to improve relations between the two neighbors, which had been strained due to similar territorial disputes, disagreements over maritime boundaries and differing political ideologies.

The recent gestures began after a devastating earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye in February, resulting in the loss of over 50,000 lives.

Greece was among the first countries to send rescue teams and offer aid to Türkiye following the tremors. At that time, then Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias paid a visit to Türkiye in a show of support. Dendias, a political moderate, moved to the Defense Ministry within Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis' new cabinet last week to oversee an ongoing rearmament program that has antagonized ties with Türkiye.

The two countries have stepped up for solidarity once again over a tragic train crash in northern Greece that claimed the lives of 57 people as Ankara promptly offered condolences and aid. Additionally, Türkiye allowed the transfer of a Greek prisoner to attend his son's funeral after the accident.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reached out to Mitsotakis in a congratulatory phone call after the latter's recent election victory, expressing his hope for positive developments in bilateral ties during the new political era.

Both leaders acknowledged the significance of having robust governments in power that can instill confidence and reassurance among their respective citizens, as stated in an official statement released by the Turkish Presidential Communications Directorate.

Erdoğan earlier said he can meet Mitsotakis on the sidelines of the NATO leaders’ summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on July 11-12, reiterating that Türkiye is trying to "increase friendship and not enmity."

Greece clears Lavrion camp long used by PKK terrorists

Meanwhile, the Greek police on July 5 cleared a notorious camp near Athens, Lavrion, which has been one of the long-standing issues in Ankara-Athens’s relations as members of the PKK terrorist organization have lived there for decades.

Security forces launched an operation to close down the Lavrion Camp and transfer its 53 inhabitants to other areas run by the country's Migration and Asylum Ministry, said a statement by Greek Police (ELAS).

The police said they had transferred 26 men, eight women and 19 children to other facilities.

A police statement also said the operation was conducted "calmly and there was no resistance.”

The Greek government had previously decided to close down the Lavrion Camp, citing the "risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake."

"A small earthquake could have brought down the building, crushing the residents," Lavrio Mayor Dimitris Loukas told reporters at the scene.

The Greek police emphasized that although Lavrion had been a legally established refugee camp in the past, it has been occupied in recent years.

Türkiye for years has objected to the continued operation of the Lavrion Camp, which it said was used by the PKK and far-left terror groups as a training ground, pointing to testimonies by arrested PKK members.

Turkey, Diplomacy,