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Greek MP Chatzivasileiou hails milestone in Ankara-Athens relations

Greek MP Chatzivasileiou hails milestone in Ankara-Athens relations
By Ahmet Kocak
Jan 11, 2024 11:52 AM

Greece and Türkiye pledge to uphold good neighborly relations and maintain ‘calm waters’ with Athens Declaration, says Tasos Chatzivasileiou

EXCLUSIVE BY PIRIL CENNET — Turkiye and Greece aim to steer their bilateral relations in a positive direction and prevent potential tensions as they recently signed the Athens Declaration, said Tasos Chatzivasileiou, a member of the Greek Parliament and the International Relations Secretary of the Nea Demokratia Party, in an exclusive interview with Türkiye Today.

“With the Athens Declaration, Greece and Türkiye pledge to uphold good neighborly relations and maintain ‘calm waters’ in these relations. These principles should be the guiding pillars and the founding blocks of our future together. As such, the Athens Declaration is a significant milestone,” Chatzivasileiou said.

In the favorable atmosphere of last week’s meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in the capital city of Athens, the Greek MP highlighted that both sides were working toward resolving mutual issues.

“This marked the third encounter between the two leaders within six months. In the first two instances, they had the opportunity to discuss and outline the next steps. In the latest meeting, they evaluated the progress thus far and defined their commitment to further progress through the signing of the Athens Declaration, a significant milestone for the journey ahead,” he maintained.

‘Mutual trust’

Chatzivasileiou emphasized that Greece was among the first to offer assistance during the earthquake in Türkiye last February, which resulted in the tragic loss of thousands of lives. He stated that the solidarity exhibited during that crisis has propelled bilateral relations and that he anticipates these ties will further strengthen in the future.

“Emphasizing the imperative need for peaceful coexistence, Greece and Türkiye should endeavor to prevent any future crisis from escalating into a conflict and address every issue in line with good neighborly relations and the principles of International Law. Our focus should be on intensifying our economic relations, promoting a positive agenda and tackling common challenges such as climate change or the migration crisis. By continuing the confidence-building measures, we can start rebuilding what currently lacks between two countries – mutual trust,” he highlighted.

Greek MP Chatzivasileiou hails milestone in Ankara-Athens relations

Greek MP Tasos Chatzivasileiou speaks at the Greek Parliament 

Cooperation in refugee crisis

Drawing attention to the refugee crisis in the Aegean, which is one of the biggest issues in both countries, Chatzivasileiou said that for a solution both sides needed to cooperate under humanitarian law values.

“In the last years, we have implemented a strict but fair policy to protect our borders and, of course, support those who need international protection according to the Treaties. This is indeed a common challenge. Greece and Türkiye should continue to work together more efficiently through an enhanced synergy, aiming at better results. Working together will be mutually beneficial to our countries,” the Greek official highlighted.

‘Armament of islands cannot be discussed’

Türkiye has been protesting Greece’s arming of islands near Turkish shores that are demilitarized under longstanding treaties, saying that such moves frustrate its good faith efforts toward peace.

When questioned about the armament of islands and the continental shelf issue, which is another significant point of contention between Türkiye and Greece, Chatzivasileiou asserted that sovereignty is non-negotiable and Greece’s stance on this matter remains unchanged.

“Sovereignty is not up for discussion, and therefore, the Greek stance on this matter remains the same. Any discussion on armament pertaining to a sovereign territory is off the table. The only outstanding difference between Greece and Türkiye is the delimitation of the continental shelf and the Exclusive Economic Zone.”

“We are committed to addressing this issue according to the principles of International Law, particularly the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). We aim to work together to find solutions that will improve our shared concerns,” he stressed.

On the other hand, the Greek MP noted that Greece’s procurement of F-35 fighter jets should not be seen as a step to escalate tensions with its NATO ally Turkiye.

“Greece and Türkiye are two NATO allies, and within this framework, no armament program should be viewed as a step toward escalation. In the framework of its efforts to boost its defensive capabilities, for the sake of regional stability and in compliance with NATO policies to upgrade the military capabilities of all member states, Greece is efficiently equipping all three branches of our military forces,” Chatzivasileiou added.

‘Erdogan’s positive attitude’

President Erdogan has played an important role in the Russian-Ukrainian War, the Karabakh War and most recently in the conflict in Gaza with his mediation efforts.

When asked about his views on Erdogan’s leadership in the context of relations between Athens and Ankara, Chatzivasileiou opined that during the Turkish president’s tenure of more than two decades, bilateral relations between the two countries have been turbulent.

“President Erdogan has held leadership positions for more than two decades, a period marked by numerous challenges in our bilateral relations. During this time, Greek-Turkish relations have faced turbulence and tensions,” he added.

“Greece has never provoked Türkiye. Our country pursued a calm profile and made sure that the bridge of understanding was always there. Besides, we have different positions on several issues. Notably, the recent reignition of the Middle East crisis has made evident our different views on various aspects of the issue,” the Greek official said.

However, a positive development is emerging, as the Turkish President appears receptive to finding common ground on the common challenges that our countries face, he said.

“We hope that this spirit of rapprochement will endure. We hope that President Erdogan will seize the opportunity presented by the current positive momentum by focusing on the long-term benefits rather than wrong ‘ethnic’ identity references to the Muslim minority in Thrace,” Chatzivasileiou concluded.

Last Updated:  Jun 5, 2024 4:39 PM