Greece, Turkey say communication channels must be kept open

Greece, Turkey say communication channels must be kept open

The Greek and Turkish Defense ministers, Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Hulusi Akar, conveyed a message on Tuesday on the need to keep communication channels between Athens and Turkey open, and, in the long term, to create conditions for cooperation.

In the first visit by a Greek defense minister to Turkey in two decades, Panagiotopoulos toured the areas in southeastern Turkey devastated by the earthquakes of February 6.

In the wake of the relative thaw in relations since February the two countries have agreed to an informal moratorium on large-scale exercises until the elections and the end of the summer, while an extension has not been ruled out, if conditions allow, after the elections in both countries.

“Greece, from the very first moment, responded to Turkey’s request for the mobilization of the European mechanism for assistance after natural disasters. We, as neighbors, with Greek rescuers, rushed to assist in the effort to save our fellow human beings in Turkey, who were affected by the earthquakes, thus expressing our support and solidarity,” Panagiotopoulos said during joint statements with Akar.

He also stressed the symbolism of his visit as a message that “tragedies and natural disasters of this magnitude are beyond and above any problems and differences between us and could act as levers that reduce tension and create conditions facilitating communication and meetings between the two sides.” “The ultimate goal, if the necessary conditions are met, is to create a climate of stability and cooperation,” he added.

For his part, Akar expressed hope that “Turkey and Greece, two civilized countries, can resolve these differences within the framework of good-neighborly relations, diplomacy and respect.”

“By creating an environment of permanent cooperation, we want the Aegean and the Mediterranean to become a sea of friendship,” he added.

Apart from Panagiotopoulos, the quake-affected areas were also visited on Tuesday by Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarakis.

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