Turkish President Tayyip Erdoganand Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis began talks in Ankara on Monday aimed at maintaining the positive momentum achieved in bilateral ties in recent months despite lingering problems.

Turkey and Greece, NATO allies and historic foes, have long been at odds over issues including maritime boundaries, energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, flights over the Aegean Sea, and ethnically split Cyprus.

After years of tensions that brought the two to the brink of conflict, they have started taking highprofile steps to improve ties,especially since both leaders were re-elected last year.

Erdogan hosted Mitsotakis at the presidential palace in Ankara, state broadcaster TRT said. The two were scheduled to hold a joint press conference afterwards.

A Turkish diplomatic source said Erdogan and Mitsotakis would discuss issues from technology, tourism and economic ties to counter-terrorism and migration, adding that a “Joint Business Council” would also be formed to bring together Turkish and Greek business people.

Erdogan visited Athens last December and the two countries signed the “Declaration of Athens” aimed at setting the base for a roadmap to rebooting relations.

They agreed to boost trade, keep communication channels open, carry out military confidence-building measures to reduce tensions, and work on problems that have kept them apart.

“Since the (December) visit, in accordance with the meaning and spirit of the Declaration, by mutually building confidence, the two parties have aimed to create an atmosphere to allow for existing issues to be tackled in the appropriate way,” the diplomatic source said.


On Sunday, Mitsotakis told Turkish daily Milliyet that his visit to Ankara – the first in five years – was an opportunity to evaluate progress and to reiterate Athens’ commitment to improving ties.

Erdogan, speaking to Greek daily Kathimerini on Sunday, said the main goal was to “raise the level of our bilateral relations to unprecedented heights”, adding the neighbours had many issues they could agree on while seeking solutions to their problems.

However, the allies remain at loggerheads over several issues including maritime jurisdiction.

Greece‘s plan to build marine park in the Aegean, which it says is for environmental purposes, has upset Turkey, while Athens was annoyed by Turkey’s decision to turn the ancient Chora church, previously a museum for decades, into a mosque.

“The important thing is that (disagreements) do not lead to crises,” a Greek government source said.