Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Erdogan visits Greece in bid to restart bilateral relations

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses a meeting of business leaders on Tuesday, two days after his runoff win Reuters/Umit Bektas
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet Greek President Katerina on Thursday

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Athens on Thursday with a delegation of ministers for meetings with Greek counterparts that both countries hope can turn a new page in relations after years of tensions.

Greece and Turkey, neighbours and Nato allies, have been at odds for decades over issues including where their continental shelves start and end, energy resources, overflights of the Aegean Sea, and ethnically-split Cyprus.

They reached the brink of war in the 1990s and over the past years they have argued over energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, defence issues, migration and the acquisition of fighter jets, which paused diplomatic talks.

Relations improved after Greece sent aid to Turkey following a devastating earthquake in February. Both Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ re-elections this year also eased political pressure and allowed them to put rivalry aside.

“We want to give emphasis on a positive agenda that is mutually beneficial,” a Greek government official said ahead of the Greece-Turkey fifth High-level Cooperation Council.

Erdogan is expected to meet Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Mitsotakis around noon. It will be the leaders’ third meeting since July, when they agreed to resume talks at all levels.

“There is no problem we cannot solve through dialogue on the basis of mutual goodwill,” Erdogan told Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper in an interview before his visit.

The meetings will produce a joint declaration and agreements in sectors including the economy, health, education, agriculture, migration and tourism, according to government officials.

Greece got permission from the European Union (EU) to re-enable Turkish citizens to apply for a seven-day tourist visa for 10 islands close to the Turkish coast, a move expected to be announced during the visit, as evidence of goodwill, the officials said.

Both countries want to show they are willing to mend ties.

Turkey has been seeking EU membership for more than two decades. Following a debt crisis that rocked the euro zone, Greece wants to regain its footing and appear as a pillar of stability in a changing geopolitical landscape due to the war in Ukraine and the Gaza conflict.

Despite expressions of goodwill, little progress is expected on thorny, long-standing bilateral issues according to officials in both countries.

Athens has said that it will only discuss the demarcation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, not issues of “national sovereignty”.

Erdogan on Wednesday reiterated Turkey’s stance that all issues should be discussed, if the dispute is taken to the International Court of Justice.

“They are all interrelated,” he told Kathimerini.