Tsipras underlines need to build relationship of ‘mutual respect’ with Turkey


In an interview with Anadolu news agency ahead of an official visit to Turkey, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras underlined the need for the two countries to build a relationship of "mutual respect." 

Apart from talks in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Tsipras is also to visit Hagia Sofia in Istanbul and the Halki Orthodox Seminary.

"Greece is opening a new historic chapter in 2019, leaving behind economic programs and the crisis, returning to growth and the international markets, deepening human rights, resolving problems with its neighbors like North Macedonia or Albania and becoming a pillar of peace and stability in the region through new formats of cooperation in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean," Tsipras said, adding that, "the conditions must be created, also in Greek-Turkish relations, for historic steps to take place." 

Tsipras acknowledged that his relationship with Erdogan "was challenged in very difficult moments, but allowed us to consolidate channels of communication on many levels, to overcome obstacles and to be able, today, to speak of a positive agenda." He said the relationship is based on "respect, honesty and directness." 

"It is based on a constant effort to build the relations that our countries ought to have in the 21st century and the relations which correspond to the history of our peoples and the friendship that has been developing between them," he said. 

As for the migration crisis, Tsipras said Greece and Turkey have displayed a high level of cooperation which should be deepened.

He added that the European Union should find a way of increasing support for countries shouldering the bulk of responsibility for responding to the refugee crisis.

As for the Cyprus issue, which the two leaders are expected to discuss, Tsipras called for a permanent and just solution.