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Erdoğan envisions new era in relations with Greece on upcoming visit

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed hope on Saturday for a fresh start in bilateral relations with Greece, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Commenting on his upcoming visit to Greece, scheduled for December 7, he said: “I hope that a new era [between the two countries] will begin. We are trying to make more friends and fewer enemies.”

“We will go to Athens with a win-win approach. We will discuss both our bilateral relations and relations between Turkey and the EU in order to make decisions that will live up to the spirit of the new era,” Erdoğan told journalists on board the presidential plane on the return flight from Dubai, where he was attending the COP28 climate summit.

He referred to the proximity and intertwined history of the two nations and said it was not constructive to stir up hostilities, declaring his willingness to start a new era, keep promises and develop relations free from external influences.

Regarding external influences, he said the US is providing military equipment to Greece while withholding similar support to Turkey.

“Although we’ve requested them, we haven’t gotten the F-16s while they continue to send F-16s and ammunition to Greece. This does not mean we have to give in just because the United States has. We will visit our neighboring country, sit down and talk,” he said.

Turkey requested 40 F-16 jets and modernization packages from Washington in 2021. The State Department has informally notified Congress of the potential sale.

Erdoğan, who will be accompanied by ministers, will travel to Athens to attend a meeting of the Greece-Turkey High-level Cooperation Council (HLCC), which will take place after a seven-year hiatus during which tensions in Greek-Turkish relations ran high.

The HLCC was inaugurated in 2010 during a visit of then-prime minister Erdoğan to Athens to promote economic, trade and business cooperation between Greece and Turkey. Subsequent meetings were held in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

Erdoğan will meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his visit.

Following years of tension, Greece and Turkey decided to de-escalate and seek a “reset” in relations after both Erdoğan and Mitsotakis managed to be re-elected earlier this year.

The two NATO members have had troubled relations dating back to the establishment of the modern Turkish republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

They have long-standing disputes over exploratory drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean and the divided island of Cyprus as well as rival claims over the Aegean Sea.

Greece also frequently accuses Turkey of waving through migrants from across their joint border and at sea.

Ankara in turn accuses Athens of being engaged in illegal pushbacks of migrant boats.

Although their relations have been strained, Greece was one of the first countries to send a rescue team in the wake of two major earthquakes in February that hit southeastern Turkey, claiming more than 50,000 lives.

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