NEWS

Samaras calls Netanyahu as Israel and Turkey move to normalize relations

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has spoken to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and arranged for the two countries to hold a High-Level Cooperation Council meeting soon.

Samaras’s office released a statement on Saturday, saying the two leaders had spoken a day earlier and agreed that diplomatic efforts to arrange the council, involving ministers from both sides, should begin.

Greece has enjoyed closer ties with Israel recently, partly due to the deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel.

The phone call between Samaras and Netanyahu came on the same day the Israeli prime minister called Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for the 2010 deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel carrying humanitarian aid and challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip.

The men died after Israeli marines stormed the ship, an incident that seriously damaged ties between the two countries.

“We are entering a new period in both Turkey and the region,» said Erdogan, who plans to visit the Palestinian territories next month.

“We are at the beginning of a process of elevating Turkey to a position so that it will again have a say, initiative and power, as it did in the past.”

Netanyahu agreed to meet Turkey’s three conditions for normalizing relations, clear apology, compensation to the victims’ families and a relaxation of the Gaza blockade, Erdogan told a rally broadcast live from the western town of Eskisehir.

[Kathimerini English Edition & Reuters]