The defense ministers of Greece and Turkey briefly met on Thursday on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, a move considered a tentative attempt to de-escalate a particularly shrill round of tension of late plaguing bilateral relations.
The brief tête-à-tête between Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Turkey’s Hulusi Akar came a day after the latter told a reporter for a Greek media outlet in Istanbul that “we’re ready to solve all of our problems with talks and meetings. There are already efforts underway, such as exploratory contacts that we want concluded; there are CBMs and meetings within the NATO framework. We’re ready to begin these meetings immediately, as we’re ready to talk to our Greek counterparts … I am ready to meet with Nikos (Panagiotopoulos) in Brussels,” Akar said.
Making good on his intent, the Turkish minister heard Panagiotopoulos on Thursday call for an end to ongoing tension, allowing for steps forward.
According to reports, the Turkish side emphasized a need to keep communications channels open and to focus on a “positive agenda”, one towards good-neighborly relations and regional cooperation.
Video from the brief meeting showed both men smiling and shaking hands.
Official Ankara dramatically ramped up inflammatory rhetoric, saber-rattling and even irredentism following Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ landmark address to a joint session of the US Congress and extensive talks with US President Joe Biden and top administration officials.
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