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Greek PM plans to visit Ankara in May amid thaw in relations

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced plans to visit Ankara in May in what would be yet another step in reducing tensions between the two neighbors and NATO allies, according to Greek media.

Mitsotakis said in a televised interview with Greece’s Skai TV on Tuesday that there is a “sincere willingness” from the Turkish side to “bridge our differences, to avoid tensions at least.”

“As the program stands right now, I will be in Ankara at some point in May, to reciprocate the visit by [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” Mitsotakis told Skai TV, referring to the Turkish president’s visit to Athens in December.

After years of tension over migration, energy rights and maritime borders in the Aegean Sea, Greece and Turkey restarted high-level talks in December when President Erdoğan paid his first to Athens since 2017 and signed a declaration of friendship between the two historic rivals.

“There is a sincere desire on the part of the Turkish leadership to bridge the tensions… We are talking about the big thorn of the EEZ [exclusive economic zone] delimitation, but, even if we don’t resolve it, we can agree to disagree in a civilized manner,” Mitsotakis said.

“This does not mean we will not enhance our deterrent capabilities,” the prime minister added.

An EEZ is a sea zone in which a sovereign state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources. EEZs are prescribed according to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Turkey and Greece have had 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.

Turkey doesn’t recognize a legal continental shelf and EEZ around the Greek islands.

For decades, Ankara has been of the opinion that the many Greek islands off Turkey’s Aegean coast should be entitled only to a much-reduced EEZ, if any.

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