Historical rivals Greece and Turkey are stepping up efforts to improve ties after the leaders of both countries secured important victories in elections held earlier this year. As the correspondent of the Voice of America, Dorian Jones, announces, next week, the Turkish and Greek foreign ministers have planned to meet in Turkey. But analysts warn that between the neighbors, there are still substantial obstacles.
Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on September 5. The meeting is seen as the last attempt at rapprochement between Turkey and Greece.
Analysts say Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ landslide victory in elections held in June is allowing him to pursue his long-term goal of rapprochement with Turkey.
“I wouldn’t say he had a secret agenda, but he wanted to improve relations. The victory in the last elections freed the hands of Prime Minister Mitsotakis. “Before, he had little freedom of action because his foreign minister, his army chief and others were very strict,” says Alexis Heraclides from Pantheon University.
Mr. Mitsotakis used his mandate to replace the Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after re-election in May, also replaced his foreign minister with Hakan Fidan, widely regarded as a capable diplomat.
Some analysts say the Turkish president is now able to tone down his nationalist rhetoric, which is popular with his base, and will be more open to Greek proposals.
“The new Turkish government will be much more cooperative. I think the intractable issues will continue, but the rhetoric will be much softer,” says Hysen Bagci, head of the Foreign Policy Institute, a think tank based in Ankara.
The Aegean and Mediterranean remain hotspots for Greek and Turkish vessels as the two countries search for what are believed to be vast reserves of energy in the disputed waters. At the same time, the island of Cyprus, divided between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, continues to be a potential point of tension.
Analysts say an improvement in bilateral ties could remove an obstacle to the sale of US military aircraft to Turkey. The sale has been delayed in part because of Washington’s concerns about tensions between the two NATO allies.
But given past failed attempts, observers question how long efforts to improve ties will last.
“In the beginning, great photos come out, everyone is smiling. I think in three months or six months, we’ll see if people go back to the trigger rhetoric. It’s like a terrible wedding – first comes the short honeymoon period, and then everyone reveals their true character,” says security analyst Aya Burweila
Recent hopeful signs include decisions by Greek and Turkish leaders to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric following incidents such as the recent flare-up of tensions in Cyprus and the decision to further Turkish drilling in search of energy resources in the Mediterranean.
Prime Minister Mitsotakis and President Erdogan are expected to meet while attending the United Nations General Assembly in October. Analysts say that the two leaders intend to hold a high-level meeting this year in Greece./ VOA
To join the “Fourals.com” group, just click: Join Group and your request will be approved immediately. Fourals.com Group