Greek ministers visit Türkiye’s quake-hit province amid easing of tensions

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi visited Türkiye’s quake-hit Hatay province on Tuesday amid mutual efforts to ease tensions between the two NATO members.

Greece was one of the first countries to offer humanitarian aid to Türkiye after the Feb. 6 earthquakes and made significant contributions to the search and rescue efforts in the quake zones, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart in Hatay.

“We expect that this approach and positive, constructive atmosphere will continue and that the doors of dialogue will be open, without waiting for a new disaster. Thus, it is our sincere wish that the Aegean and the Mediterranean will now truly become a sea of friendship, with the creation of a permanent cooperation environment,” Akar said.

Panagiotopoulos, for his part, offered his condolences to the victims of the massive tremors in southern Türkiye which killed more than 50,000 people.

“Similar tragedies and natural disasters show us how small the conflicts and problems are between countries. When we look from another angle, we see that these tragedies and disasters act as a catalyst in terms of reducing tensions,” he said.

Mitarachi and Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu also held a press conference following their tour of the quake-hit areas.

The Greek minister stressed that Greece would support international efforts to help reconstruct the Turkish quake-hit regions.

The visit by the Greek ministers came amid the de-escalation of tensions between the two neighbors in the wake of the earthquakes.

Ankara and Athens resumed high-level meetings and launched a dialogue process on the “positive agenda” of the two countries apart from disputed topics.

The two countries have long been at odds over their overlapping claims of airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean and Mediterranean, as well as other issues concerning minorities and illegal immigration.■

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