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'Turkey-Greece talks held in positive atmosphere'

Turkish foreign minister holds news conference with visiting Irish counterpart in 's capital Ankara

Anadolu Agency TURKEY
Published January 27,2021

Talks between Turkey and Greece, which resumed Monday after five years of hiatus, were held in a very positive atmosphere, according to the Turkish foreign minister on Wednesday.

Resuming the exploratory talks as its former name, and consultative talks as it is called now -- since it has been ongoing for a long time -- was important for the resolution of disputes, said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in a news conference with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Çavuşoğlu said the next talks will be held in Greece and its date will be announced later.

"Consultation on how to solve these problems will be beneficial for the two neighbors to reduce the tension at least for now and perhaps to find permanent solutions to these problems in the future," he noted.

Exploratory talks between Turkey and Greece, meant to find fair and equitable settlements to issues in the Aegean, began in 2002.

After the 60th round of talks in March 2016, Athens suspended the meetings.

Bilateral talks continued in the form of political consultations, but did not return to the exploratory framework.

Turkey-Ireland relations

On relations with Ireland, Çavuşoğlu said they agreed on regular contacts at all levels and he will visit Ireland "as soon as possible."

Stating that the last presidential-level visit from Ireland to Turkey was in 2010, he said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also likely to pay a visit to Ireland.

Çavuşoğlu highlighted deep-rooted relations between the two countries and said they aim to reach $3 billion bilateral trade volume, which stood at $1.5 billion last year.

He also appreciated Ireland's support for Turkey's accession process to the EU since the beginning.

After a year of ups and downs, Turkish leaders said they are hopeful for progress in relations with the EU this year and expect the bloc to take steps towards this end.

Turkey has been an official candidate for EU membership since 2005, but progress towards its accession has been stalled for years.

The top Turkish diplomat congratulated Ireland for becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and praised its efforts for delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

Ireland supports EU-Turkey relations

For his part, Coveney said Ireland and the EU will continue to support Turkey in its efforts to host millions of Syrian refugees who have been fleeing the civil war in their country since 2011.

"Ireland is determined to support all efforts led by the UN to bring this terrible conflict to a peaceful and sustainable end," he said.

On EU-Turkey relations, Coveney said: "It's clear that last year was a particularly difficult year for the EU-Turkey relationship as a result of a series of factors.

"Our aim is to ensure that the relationship improves significantly in 2021."

He also called the resumption of talks between Turkey and Greece as "a positive step".

Coveney said efforts to improve the relations between Ankara and the bloc have to be maintained, and added: "This relationship is simply too important to be allowed to drift into a negative space. A constructive and cooperative partnership is essential."